Fairdale, IL Residents May Get to Return to Assess Damage Following Tornado

FAIRDALE, Ill. (AP) — Northern Illinois residents whose rural hamlet was nearly leveled by a deadly twister may get to return to their homes to assess the damage from the storm that killed two women. Sixty-nine year-old Jacklyn Klosa and 67-year-old Geraldine Schultz were found dead after a tornado hit their Fairdale neighborhood Thursday night. Fairdale is a community of about 150 people that’s about 80 miles west of Chicago. Fairdale has no village government, no school, no cable TV and no major businesses. Continue Reading

Wyoming Man Steals Train, Goes on Joyride, gets Probation

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — A Wyoming man who stole a train from a coal mine and took it for a joyride because he was mad at his boss has been sentenced to serve probation and pay restitution. Derek Skyler Brux unhitched a pair of engines and took them on a high-speed run down a major rail line last fall and crashed them into a train at another mine. The 22-year-old pleaded guilty to related charges in January and must serve five years’ probation and pay over $63,000 in restitution to his employer, Rail Link. U.S. District Judge Scott Skavdahl said Friday that Brux needs to deal with his anger and mental health issues. Continue Reading

Missouri Governor Calls for Reversal of Proposed Budget Cuts

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon says increased state general revenues from an improving economy make cuts in the Senate’s proposed budget for services for foster children and people with mental illnesses unnecessary. Nixon on Friday called on lawmakers to restore the $130 million cut from the House version of the 2016 budget for programs for seniors, people with disabilities and foster children. He says an increase in state revenues so far this year means there will be about $80 million more available for the fiscal year 2016 budget. The Senate’s top budget writer, Republican Sen. Kurt Schaefer, has proposed lumping together most programs in three departments and reducing the House’s proposed increase. Continue Reading

Top House Republican: Marijuana Approval Should Come From FDA

A key Republican lawmaker says the federal agency in charge of approving prescription drugs for the marketplace should make the decision about medical marijuana. Senators may debate a bill next week that would allow marijuana to be grown, processed and sold in Iowa as treatment for a list of medical conditions that cause severe pain, nausea and seizures. House Republican Leader Linda Upmeyer of Clear Lake makes decisions on which bills get considered in the House and she’s not inclined to bring that bill up for debate. “If this is a legitimate medication…I really think the FDA needs to weigh in on this issue,” Upmeyer says. “That’s the way we do other medications. Continue Reading

Some Lawmakers Skip Wiccan Prayer at Statehouse

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Many of Iowa’s House lawmakers opted to skip a prayer offered by a member of the Wiccan faith. The prayer Thursday by Deborah Maynard, a Wiccan from Cedar Rapids, was a break from tradition. Cedar Rapids Democratic Rep. Liz Bennett, who invited Maynard, says she thinks it was the first time a Wiccan gave the invocation. The prayer is typically handled by religious leaders or citizens invited by lawmakers. At least half the 100 lawmakers were not present in the House chamber. Continue Reading

Governor’s Brother Entitled to Attorney Fees in Pollution Case

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — The Iowa Court of Appeals says Gov. Terry Branstad’s brother is entitled to attorneys’ fees for successfully challenging the state’s calculation of how many fish were killed by pollution from his cattle-farming operation. Overturning a lower court, the court ruled 3-0 Wednesday that Monroe Branstad is the prevailing party in his battle with the Department of Natural Resources. Branstad, of Forest City, has acknowledged that sweet-corn silage leachate unintentionally discharged from a containment basin on his farm into the Winnebago River in 2008. The DNR estimated 31,000 fish were killed, and ordered Branstad to pay $62,000 in damages. But a judge later ruled the DNR improperly calculated the fish kill estimate, and damages were reduced to $5,300. Continue Reading

Dozens March on State Capitol for Medical Marijuana Expansion

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Advocates seeking expanded access to medical marijuana in Iowa held a march at the state Capitol. More than 50 supporters of a proposal to expand the use of medical marijuana participated Tuesday. They support legislation that has won committee-level approval in the state Senate and could soon come up for a floor vote. The legislation would make medical marijuana available to people with certain chronic diseases, such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Those approved by a doctor could purchase marijuana products produced in Iowa and sold at state-licensed dispensaries. Continue Reading

Illinois State Athletic Staffers Among 7 Dead in Plane Crash

BLOOMINGTON, Ill. (AP) — Illinois State University says its associate head basketball coach and a deputy athletic director are among seven people who died in a plane crash in central Illinois. University President Larry Dietz confirmed Tuesday that assistant coach Torrey Ward and Aaron Leetch, the athletic department’s deputy director for external relations, were killed in the early-morning crash. Dietz made the announcement in an email to students, faculty and staff, saying “words cannot fully express the grief that is felt.” Ward and Leetch were on a small plane that crashed near Bloomington, Illinois, on the way back from the NCAA basketball tournament in Indianapolis. Continue Reading

Entire Barn Stolen in Welton

WELTON, Iowa (AP) — An investigation of a barn theft in Welton has come to a standstill, for now. The Quad-City Times reports that according to the Clinton County Sheriff’s office, there are no suspects in the case of who stole a barn from the Ruggeberg farm. Sally Ruggeberg discovered that thieves had cut 24-foot-long sections of beams, walls and floors from the 100-year-old barn on March 10. Ruggeberg believes that it was a crew that dismantled the barn, and they likely used power tools and a generator because electricity had been turned off at the property last fall. Deputy Tom Christoffersen said Friday that a surveillance camera had been set up on the property to collect evidence if the thieves returned, but they never did. Continue Reading