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Kidnapped Victim Speaks

The twelve-year-old that had escaped Monday from 42-year-old Michael Klunder, spoke earlier today about what happened that frightening afternoon. Dezirea Hughes is a seventh-grader from Dayton, Iowa. Hughes said that Klunder lured them into his truck Monday by telling them they could earn money by mowing some lawns. The girls both said they wanted to, but needed to call their parents first. Klunder said he would give them a ride home and just continued to drive. Continue Reading

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One-Time Drug Court Administrator Accused of Making Drugs

QUINCY, Ill. (AP) — The former leader of a western Illinois county’s drug court is facing federal charges that he maintained a drug house.  

The Quincy Herald-Whig reports 59-year-old John Grotts of Ursa made his first court appearance Wednesday on the federal charges that replace two state methamphetamine-related charges. The former head of the Adams County Drug Court was arrested along with a live-in 35-year-old Quincy woman after a raid of Grotts’ home. Items reportedly seized from the home included two bags of marijuana, related paraphernalia and 11 guns. Continue Reading

Hobby Lobby Back in Court to Defend Sexual Health Views

DENVER (AP) — A federal appeals court in Denver today will hear a challenge from the arts-and-crafts chain store Hobby Lobby, which says paying for health care coverage that includes the morning-after pill and some intrauterine devices goes against its religious beliefs.  

Hobby Lobby says it should be exempt from that part of the new health care law. Right now just religious groups are exempt.  

The chain has a store on Agency Street in Burlington.   Continue Reading

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Iowa Senate Says “YES” to Property/Income Tax Cut

A plan to approve tax cuts for commercial property taxes and to reduce income taxes has been approved by the Iowa Senate. The Iowa legislature compromised today on the Republican-favored approach of rolling back commercial property tax rates by 10% over the next two years, along with a new tax credit for commercial property owners that was pushed by Democrats. The bill is now off to the House, which is Republican-led, and it’s expected to pass. Governor Terry Branstad said last week he would sign the plan as soon as it reaches his desk. Continue Reading

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UPDATE: Missing Girl’s Backpack Found

The backpack of 15 year old Kathlynn Shepard has been recovered by a search team of police and dogs. Another backpack was also found that belonged to the 12 year old girl who had escaped. The backpacks were found several miles south of a hog confinement where the girls were taken. Kathlynn Shepard and the 12 year old were abducted earlier this week while walking home from school in Dayton. The alleged kidnapper is 42 year old Michael Klunder, who was found dead of self inflicting injuries just hours after the 12 year old had escaped. Continue Reading

IL Senate Okays Smart-Grid Plan Over Quinn’s Objections

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — The Senate has again approved a plan to address so-called Smart Grid technology over the objection of Gov. Pat Quinn.  

Senators voted 44-11 Tuesday to override Quinn’s veto earlier this month. Quinn claimed the bill undermined oversight and would force automatic rate hikes. Senate President John Cullerton disputed those claims. A three-fifths majority was needed. Continue Reading

Dubuque Man, “The Bishop,” Sent to Prison

CHICAGO (AP) — An Iowa letter carrier has been sentenced to 37 years in prison for sending dud pipe bombs with threatening letters signed “The Bishop.”  

U.S. District Judge Robert Dow issued the sentence Tuesday afternoon, saying John Tomkins “engaged in a reign of terror.” The 48-year-old Dubuque, Iowa man previously apologized, saying there were “no words to describe” his “shame.” Tomkins was trying to drive up the value of shares he owned. One package was sent to Denver and another to Kansas City, Mo. Continue Reading

IL Congressmen Seek Federal Disaster Relief

CHICAGO (AP) — Illinois’ congressional delegation has asked President Obama to add 16 Illinois counties, including Henderson, Warren and McDonough in our area, to the list of those eligible to receive disaster aid after last month’s flooding.  

The letter was sent on Tuesday to support a similar request by Gov. Pat Quinn on Friday. Quinn cited reports from the Illinois Emergency Management Agency of more than 800 flood-damaged homes in the 16 counties, including 14 homes that were destroyed and 202 with major damage. The additional counties are Bureau, Crawford, Henderson, Knox, Livingston, Marshall, Mason, McDonough, Peoria, Putnam, Rock Island, Schuyler, Stark, Tazewell, Warren and Woodford. A disaster declaration allows people and businesses to apply for federal loans and reimbursements to help pay for storm and flood damage repairs. Continue Reading

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Suspected Kidnapper Kills Himself; 15-Year Old Still Missing

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Authorities say a man suspected of abducting two girls near an Iowa bus stop had committed suicide.  

Forty-two-year-old Michael Klunder was found dead Monday night at a rural property northeast of Dayton. The Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation did not release more details Tuesday about Klunder’s death. Dozens of federal, state and local law enforcement are searching by air, land and water for 15-year-old Kathlynn Shepard. She and a 12-year-old girl were taken near a bus stop in Dayton, about 60 miles north of Des Moines, on Monday afternoon after accepting a ride from a stranger. Continue Reading