Snow Flies in Some Places on 4th Day of Spring

Some eastern Iowans may have experienced the phenomenon of “thundersnow” early Monday morning, where you have claps of thunder booming and snow flying at the same time. While it’s four days into spring, it looks an awful lot like winter, according to meteorologist Rich Kinney at the National Weather Service office in Davenport. He says parts of eastern Iowa are seeing colder-than-normal temperatures — and snowfall. “Especially up around the Highway 20 corridor, areas from Dubuque over to Freeport, Illinois with amounts of three to four inches,” Kinney says. “To the south, down to around the Interstate 80 corridor, pretty significant wintery mix with snow, sleet, freezing rain and creating slick road conditions.” Continue Reading

Trooper Hurt in Accident Involving IL Gov. Rauner Motorcade

CHICAGO (AP) — Gov. Bruce Rauner’s motorcade was involved in a two-vehicle crash that injured a State Police trooper as snow fell in the Chicago area. Illinois State Police say the crash happened around 8:15 Monday morning on southbound Interstate 55 at LaGrange road in suburban Countryside, about 20 miles southwest of Chicago. One of the vehicles traveling behind the governor’s vehicle lost control on the slippery roadway and struck the rear tandem axle of a truck trailer. It was driven by a member of the State Police unit that protects the governor. The driver was treated and released from a local hospital. Continue Reading

Iowa City Pastor, Subject of Protests, Deported to Honduras

A pastor in eastern Iowa has been deported, despite the efforts of supporters who hoped to alter the actions of U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE). The attorney for Max Villatoro says he’s received confirmation from ICE officials that Villatoro has been deported to Honduras. Villatoro, the leader of a Mennonite church in Iowa City, was arrested by immigration officials earlier this month because of 1999 convictions for drunk driving and using a fake I-D to get a driver’s license. Since 1999, he’s married, fathered four children and become a pastor. Hundreds of people marched in Iowa City this week — while tens-of-thousands across the country signed a petition — hoping to convince immigration officials to set Villatoro free. Congressman Dave Loebsack, a Democrat from Iowa City, says the case “puts a human face” on the need for congress to figure out how to reform the nation’s broken immigration system. Continue Reading

Second Arrest Made in Mystery of 2010 Hot Lotto Winner

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — A second man has been arrested in connection with a mysterious scheme to collect a multimillion-dollar Hot Lotto jackpot that was won in 2010. The Des Moines Register reports Robert Clark Rhodes II, 46, of Sugar Land, Texas, has been arrested and authorities plan to bring him to Iowa to face fraud charges. Officials had been trying to identify the winner of the $14.3 million Hot Lotto ticket since a New York lawyer tried to claim the prize just before the one-year deadline in 2011. Earlier this year, an Iowa man who worked for a lottery company was arrested. Authorities say Eddie Raymond Tipton violated state law when he bought the ticket and then tried to get others to help him claim it. Continue Reading

Iowa DOT Says Snow Budget ‘Close to Target’

AMES, Iowa (AP) — The Iowa Department of Transportation say the state’s snow budget for the current year appears to be close to its target. Iowa maintenance engineer Bob Younie tells Des Moines television station KCCI that the state, which started out the winter with a lot of snow, has gotten lucky with the on-time arrival of spring. The department’s projected snow budget for the year is $21 million. So far, it’s spent $500,000 more than that. That may sound like a lot, but the previous year, heavy snow saw Iowa go $6 million over its snow budget. Continue Reading

IL Gov. Rauner, Gay Rights Advocates find Common Ground

CHICAGO (AP) — Gov. Bruce Rauner and gay rights advocates say they’ve found common ground following a hostile election season. Rauner and representatives of Equality Illinois and other advocacy groups met Friday for the first time since the Republican took office. Rauner said he’ll direct state agencies to strictly enforce anti-discrimination laws. He’s also appointing a liaison from his office to the gay and lesbian community. Equality Illinois CEO Bernard Cherkasov called it a positive first step. Continue Reading

USDA: Food Prices Will Rise this Year

Some Iowa farmers may welcome the news but consumers won’t be thrilled — or surprised — to hear predictions that food prices will be rising in 2015, according to a report from the U-S-D-A. Agency economist Annemarie Kuhns says overall supermarket prices rose about two-and-a-half percent last year and we can expect more of the same in the year ahead. “In 2015, we’re expecting grocery store prices to rise two to three percent,” Kuhns says. The U-S-D-A’s Food Inflation Forecast details how beef prices are up about 19-percent from a year ago and those prices will likely continue to climb still-higher. “We are forecasting beef and veal prices to rise five to six percent,” Kuhns says. Continue Reading

Iowa Dems Pass Bill Forcing Time Off Option for Caucuses

Democrats in the Iowa Senate have passed a bill that would force Iowa businesses to give employees up to four hours of unpaid time off to attend the Iowa Caucuses. Every Republican in the Senate voted against the bill. Senator Dave Johnson, a Republican from Ocheyedan (oh-CHEE-dun), says legislators should not be promoting a “political party event.” “What do they do at political party events? We’ve all been to ’em,” Johnson said. Continue Reading

Amber Alert Update: Coralville Man Charged, Allegedly Abducted Stepdaughter

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — Authorities say a Coralville man has been charged in connection with the abduction of his 9-year-old stepdaughter in Solon. The Johnson County Sheriff’s Office says 48-year-old Kenneth Johns, was charged Wednesday with second-degree kidnapping. Johns is accused of abducting Brianna Crane on March 7, prompting officials to issue an Amber Alert. The girl was dropped off safely to law enforcement the following day through an arranged meeting, and Johns was later arrested at a residence in Davenport. The sheriff’s office also charged Johns with carrying weapons and control of a firearm. Continue Reading