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Branstad Questions Criminal Sentencing Rules

In the wake of the murder of 15-year-old Kathlynn Shepard, Iowa Governor Terry Branstad is questioning Iowa’s criminal sentencing rules. Branstad says it’s appropriate to review the state’s sentencing provisions. Alleged kidnapper and murderer, Michael Klunder was released from prison in 2011 after serving 20 years for convictions in two separate Iowa kidnappings. Branstad acknowledged this and think’s the state needs to make some provisions to it’s sentencing. Klunder could only be held for so long under state law. Continue Reading

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Mississippi River Still Above Flood Stage

The flooded river is slowly going down but it will be some time before everything is completely back to normal. Today many spots around the area are still above flood stage. The waterway has crested through Iowa, southern Missouri, and Illinois, but still many farmlands are underwater, as well as roads. The National Weather Service says it could be late June before the Mississippi is fully back within it’s banks. Continue Reading

IL Prison Official Resigns in Face of Harassment Probe

CHICAGO (AP) — A director with the Illinois Department of Corrections has resigned following investigations of sexual harassment.  

The (Carbondale) Southern Illinoisan reports Ty J. Bates was the deputy director for the department’s southern district and resigned Friday. Illinois Department of Corrections spokesman Tom Shaer says Bates was at the center of two recent investigations. He says the investigations showed that Bates violated the department’s sexual harassment policies but it did not amount to the legal definition sexual harassment. Bates resigned after his disciplinary action was announced. Continue Reading

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Family of Abducted, then Murdered, Iowa Teen Speaks Out

The family of an abducted Iowa teenager has released a statement after authorities confirmed the 15-year-old’s death.  

Kathlynn Shepard’s father said Sunday that the teen’s family has “lost part of its soul,” but that Kathylnn is now in a better place and safe from predators. Kathylnn was described as an innocent, caring and fun-loving child. The State Medical Examiner and Department of Criminal Investigation said Sunday that an autopsy had confirmed that a body found Friday night in Boone County was Kathylnn’s. It also confirmed that she died of blunt force trauma. Continue Reading

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Branstad Wants Alternatives to Gas-Tax Hike

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) _ Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad says he wants to find
alternatives to raising the state fuel tax to pay for road improvements.  
 Branstad made the statement Friday during a taping of the public television
program, “Iowa Press.” Branstad says he’d like to explore other options, such
as allocating money from a state infrastructure fund or using some sales tax
revenues.  
 Branstad says there isn’t public support to raise the fuel tax and that he
doesn’t want to increase it as fuel prices are rising.  
 Iowa’s fuel tax _now 22 cents per gallon for gasoline including fees _ hasn’t
been raised since 1989. A commission appointed by Branstad in 2011 recommended
an increase of 8 to 10 cents a gallon to boost funding for the state’s network
of bridges and roads. Continue Reading

Central IL Man Gets 2 1/2 Years for Starving Dogs, Cats

 BLOOMINGTON, Ill. (AP) _ A central Illinois man was sentenced to 21/2 years in
prison after authorities say he starved more than 70 cats and dogs at his rural
McLean County home.  
 Thirty-year-old Curtis Cleary pleaded guilty to aggravated animal cruelty. He
also pleaded guilty to aggravated discharge of a firearm after investigators say
he fired a gun at his naked girlfriend as she ran down the driveway of his
Lexington home.  
 Investigators say dozens of decaying animal corpses were discovered in November
in the house’s basement and a nearby barn. Continue Reading

Volunteer Fireman Convicted of Setting Them First

 BOONE, Iowa (AP) _ A volunteer firefighter in central Iowa faces up to 10 years
in prison when he is sentenced next month for arson.  
 A court filing on Thursday said Brett Graham, of Kelley, was convicted of
second-degree arson in Boone County. Authorities say Graham admitted starting
four fires in Story and Boone counties over several months. A dozen horses died
in one of the Boone County fires.  
     The 19-year-old was a volunteer firefighter for the Kelley Fire Department. Continue Reading

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P-E-D-V: Remember Those Letters if You Raise Pigs

Tests have confirmed a “devastating” virus has struck swine herds in eight states, including Iowa and Illinois. The National Pork Producers Council is committing 410-thousand dollars to research aimed at combatting the disease. The virus — known as P-E-D-V — is not transmitted to humans and is not considered a threat to food safety, but the vomiting, diarrhea and dehydration it causes can kill up to 90 percent of baby pigs in a herd. This is the first time PEDV has been idenfied in the western hemisphere, although it exists in Europe and Asia.  Diagnostic labs at Iowa State University and the University of Minnesota have confirmed 103 cases of the virus. Besides Iowa and Illinois, tests have confirmed the virus is present in swine herds in Ohio, Indiana, Minnesota, Michigan, Oklahoma and Colorado. Continue Reading