Area News Stories


LOCAL NEWS

OSKY POLICE SEEK ASSISTANCE IN ABDUCTION

On December 15, 2014 at approximately 9:10 p.m. the Oskaloosa Police Department was contacted by a 30 year old female advising that she had been abducted by gunpoint by two male subjects. The victim advised she was standing at the intersection of North E and B Ave West at approximately 6:00 p.m., when one male wearing a ski mask grabbed her from behind and forced her at gun point into a white four door pickup truck. The victim advised she was taken out into the county to Robertson Access just north of New Sharon. While at this location the male subjects attempted to sexually assault her. She was later returned to North E St. and B Ave West.

The victim advised that both males wore ski masks and could not give an identification on facial features. The victim did say she observed that one of the males had 3 military style star tattoos on his neck, they were yellow in color. One on the right side of the neck, one on the left side of the neck and one directly under the chin. The star tattoo on the right is described as having a black or blue line through it.

The vehicle was described as a lifted white four door pickup. The vehicle engine was loud and sounded and smelled as if it were a diesel with the interior dash lights being reddish orange.

The Oskaloosa Police Department is asking that anyone who might have witnessed the abduction or has information as to the identity of the male with the star tattoo’s or information regarding the pickup truck please contact Lt. Troy Boston at the Oskaloosa Police Department at 641.672.2557


RELAY FOR LIFE OF MAHASKA COUNTY 2015 ANNOUNCED

We are excited to announce the details for Relay For Life of
Mahaska County. This event will be held March 21st, 2015 at the
Penn Central Mall in Oskaloosa, Iowa, from 2:00 p.m. to 10 p.m.
There is something for everyone to do at this year’s event!
The theme this year is “Rockin’ For A Cure”. We plan to have a
rockin’ good time in store for all of our participants and their guests!

Why should you sign up for Relay For Life?
★FREE and easy registration, with ability to sign up through social media!
★FUN for the whole family with many activities for all ages!
★FANTASTIC opportunity to meet new people and support a great cause!
★FREE T-shirt when you raise $100!
★FUNdraiser challenges between your family and friends!

How do you sign up?
1. Go to www.relayforlife.org/mahaskacountyia
2. Create an account using email or Facebook.
3. Answer a few short questions
Like us on Facebook for more information! Relay For Life of Mahaska County
If you are having trouble getting registered, have questions, or would like to be
involved more, please contact us at mahaskarelay4life@gmail.com.


SCHOOL BOARD HEARS REPORT ON UPWARD BOUND AND PROGRAM

Students enrolled in a successful student program and those considered at risk to drop out were a partial focus of Monday's Oskaloosa School Board meeting. 
Kelly Kowzan of Central College spoke to the board about the long-standing Upward Bound program. The Pella-based college has been associated with the Oskaloosa School District in providing additional educational opportunities for many years.
Two of the programs provided by Central currently include about 112 in the ETS program and 17 in the Upward Bound program. Upward Bound provides high school students with the opportunity to prepare for college and pick up college credit.
Kowzan said that the Upward Program has a school year program and a six-week summer program.
“Our grant allows us to work with six schools. Des Moines, North, East and Lincoln, along with Oskaloosa, Pella and Eddyville-Blakesburg-Fremont are the schools we can provide the program to.”
One of the programs, Education Talent Search, has 71 students at the high school and 31 at the middle school. The Upward Bound has 17 high school students from Oskaloosa involved.
Kowzan said that the six-week summer program includes a two-week session here in Oskaloosa. Students from Pella and Eddyville-Blakesburg-Fremont attend the session, which includes class time, community involvement and project based geared toward a study trip to a major city such as Chicago.
The remaining weeks are resident-based at Central’s campus. The day includes activities, classes and project-based study from early morning until late evening. Students may receive college credit and receive preparation for the ACT exam.

The board approved the hiring of Rebecca Williams as the food service manager for the middle school. Long-time employee Judy Mitchell will retire in mid-January. Williams will receive an annual salary of $17,500.

The board heard a report from curriculum director Dr. Mary Cooksley regarding an application for funding for dropout prevention. The application goes to the School Board Review Committee for consideration. If the application is approved by SBRC the district could tax for the funds if necessary. The application is for $621,961.
Cooksley said there are 129 students who are considered at-risk within the allowable growth parameters. She indicated there are significantly more students at-risk, but do not meet these requirements.

Superintendent Russ Reiter stated that at a meeting of Little Hawkeye Conference leaders it was determined the conference will make a formal request to Indianola to join the conference. If Indianola would agree they could be included into a number of activities soon, but athletic participation may not begin until the 2016-17 year due to current contracts.

In other business:
Heard presentation from district administrators on their professional learning community activities.
Approved second reading of board policy 507.9, which includes guidelines for wellness. Passed 5-2 with President Carl Drost and member Nik Rule voting against.
Approved second reading of board policy 600 series. Most of the changes were due to the change from number of days to the number of hours in a school year.

Next meeting will be Monday Jan. 12 at 7 p.m.


ELDON MAN CHARGED IN AUGUST MURDER

At approximately 7:16 a.m., Monday August 11th, 2014 the Wapello County Sheriff’s Office received a 911 call of a death at 529 W. Elm St., Eldon, Iowa which is the Main Street Bait Shop in Eldon. A male who was identified as Darrell Teeter, age 64 of 529 W. Elm St., Eldon was found deceased. 

An autopsy was performed at the Iowa Office of the State Medical Examiner on the body of Darrell Teeter on August 12, 2014, by Dr. Dennis Klein. The manner of death was certified as a Homicide. Mr. Teeter died as a result of a gunshot wound to the head.

At approximately 1:00p.m. Monday November 24th, 2014 Wapello County Sheriff’s Deputies and Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation Special Agents took Ricky Edgar Conrad Davidson Age 24 of 804 Church St. Eldon, Iowa into custody in connection with the crime. Davidson has been charged with Murder in the 1st Degree and Burglary in the 1st Degree as a result of the investigation. Davidson is being held in the Wapello County Jail and bail has been set at $525,000.00 Cash Only by Magistrate Erhardt.

This investigation has been conducted by the Wapello County Sheriff’s Office, Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation and Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation Crime Lab Team. 


OSKALOOSA POLICE INVESTIGATE HOME INVASION

On Sunday November 16, 2014 at approximately 7:41p.m., Officers were dispatched to 501 South B Street in Oskaloosa in reference to a report of a home invasion. Officers were informed that the call came into the Communication Center from an unknown male who said he lived at the residence but refused to give his name. The male caller advised that three to five black males entered his residence all dressed in black and wearing masks. The caller also indicated that the intruders were all armed with firearms and ordered his family to lay on the floor and then tied their hands using plastic zip ties.

The armed intruders had fled the scene by the time officers arrived to the property. At this time it is unknown if the intruders took anything from the residence when they fled. The occupant of the home, Patrick McCoy, age 47, is refusing to cooperate and talk with police about the incident. 

During the invasion, there were three adults and one minor child present inside the home. One adult female complained of a minor ankle injury sustained during the invasion and was treated and released at the scene. No other injuries were reported. 

This incident remains under investigation, no arrests have been made as of this time. The Police Department is asking for anyone who may have seen anything suspicious in the area or who may have information regarding this incident to please call 641-672-2557.


CITY COUNCIL VOTES DOWN FRANCHISE FEES

Franchise fee ordinances were a hot button at Monday’s Oskaloosa city council meeting. The issue to raise the fee across the board for electric and gas utilities with MidAmerican Energy has been on the council’s agenda for much of the past three months. At issue is fairness of the fees and the usage.

The first agenda item for the fee was a purpose statement. City staff recommended a statement, which included the options for usage Public safety, public works, streets and sidewalks and economic development. Councilor Jason Van Zetten emphasized if the fee was to go to economic development then the voters needed to know what that means. The first vote failed with Van Zetten, Aaron VerSteegh, Tom Walling and Tom Jimenez voting against.
Van Zetten proposed a statement allowing for the fee to be used for public safety, public works and streets and sidewalks. This vote went 6-1 with Joe Caliguiri voting no.

The second vote dealt with the gas franchise fee. Mark Willett, assistant manager at Clow Valve Co., spoke on behalf of the company. He said that under the current structure it is estimated the fee would bring in $290,000. His company would be on the hook for about $70,000 or 25 percent. “He said that the company initially supported the fee, but now that the actual numbers are in his company no longer is in favor of it. The reason being that it is disproportionate.

Andrew Jensen of Mahaska Community Development Group said his board has not made an official decision on the fee now, but there is a strong feeling that the fee is disportionate. Van Zetten asked him if the letter of support received previously was still valid. Jensen said he did not have a board opinion, but he hinted that the answer might not be in the affirmative.

Ultimately on the consideration of the franchise fee for both the gas and electric utility, Van Zetten proposed to deny and both ordinances were denied by 5-2 votes. Councilors made it clear that the franchise fee needed work before another vote could be entertained.

In other business, the council agreed to a fee reduction on a mowing assessment from $250 to $50 for a property owned by Randy and JoAnn Plate. Photos taken of the property did not clearly show how tall the weeds were prior to mowing. Following discussion councilors agreed to the reduction.

Councilors approved a two-year extension for mowing of public properties with Four Seasons Yard Care in the amount of $1,260 per mow. Councilor Walling inquired as to why this was not bid. City manager Michael Schrock explained that the original bid received by the company was significantly less than the other bids. The council approved the resolution on a 6-1 vote.

Prior to the meeting councilors held a study session on options for the Third Avenue East street project. Options presented were widening the street to allow for parking on one side, bike lanes and travel lanes. No particular option is suggested, but city staff is looking for direction. Since it was a study session no decisions were made. The presentation was for information purposes only.


STATE NEWS

MUSCATINE DEATH

Jury deliberating Muscatine man's murder case

MUSCATINE, Iowa (AP) — A jury is now deliberating the fate of a Muscatine man charged with first-degree murder in the beating death of another man.

The Muscatine Journal reports that only one witness testified in the trial of Jose Tapia Jr. — a Muscatine police officer who said he interviewed Tapia after the death.

Tapia is accused of hitting 39-year-old Michael Newman with a baseball bat on Aug. 8 following an altercation. Newman was hospitalized and placed in a medically induced coma before he died on Aug. 21 from his injuries.

Tapia told police that Newman approached him wielding the bat and hit Tapia with it. Tapia said he wrestled it away and hit Newman once in the head in self-defense.


VACATION RESORT SHOOTING

Florida man gets probation for role in Iowa shooting

BURLINGTON, Iowa (AP) — A Florida man has been placed on two years' probation for his role in an August shooting outside an eastern Iowa vacation resort and apartment complex.

The Burlington Hawk Eye reports that 30-year-old Virgil Michael Griggs, of Miami, was sentenced Monday after earlier pleading guilty to third-degree arson and accessory after the fact, both aggravated misdemeanors.

Griggs' co-defendant, 26-year-old Donald Devon Watkins, also of Miami, recently pleaded guilty to arson, assault and weapons counts in the case and faces up to 40 years in prison. He testified last month that he shot and injured two people at FunCity, an entertainment and casino resort, and that he fired shots into a crowd at Stone Garden Apartments and later using a lighter to set his car on fire.


BLACKLISTED WORKERS-IOWA

Appeals fail for ex-Iowa workers on no-hire list

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — Challenges to Iowa's practice of barring from re-employment former workers who resigned under pressure or were fired are failing in courts and the executive branch.

The Associated Press disclosed in March that the state has for years been quietly declaring such workers ineligible. Outraged union leaders called the practice illegal blacklisting and lawyers filed a class-action lawsuit.

But months later, little has changed. A judge dismissed the lawsuit in October, saying workers have to challenge their disqualification through the executive branch, not the courts.

Administrative law judges and the Employment Appeal Board have rejected appeal after appeal from workers trying to get re-employed. Not one challenge has been successful this year.

Former state worker Holly Rider says agencies are "missing out on a lot of people with great potential."


VEGETABLE OIL REFINERY

Omaha company proposes vegetable oil plant in Iowa

SERGEANT BLUFF, Iowa (AP) — An Omaha, Nebraska soybean processing company plans to build a $90 million vegetable oil refinery in western Iowa.

The Sioux City Journal reports that Ag Processing Inc. plans to build the refinery at its complex near Sergeant Bluff, creating at least 20 new jobs. The information comes from documents by Ag Processing seeking nearly $1 million in Iowa loans and tax breaks released by the state Wednesday.

The company's complex in Woodbury County currently includes a soybean processing plant, biodiesel plant and grain storage facilities.

The vegetable oil refinery proposed for the same 85-acre site would be designed for 30 rail tank cars per day. Estimated project costs include $2.5 million for site preparation, $14.5 million for construction and $71.5 million for new machinery and equipment.


CONSTRUCTION CLASS

High school students build home for college credit

HUMBOLDT, Iowa (AP) — Four Humboldt High School students are earning college credit as they help build a house through a program at Iowa Central Community College.

The students are participating in the Early Bird Program with the community college that allows them to spend their school day mornings building a house.

Senior Colby Miller says he'll likely use his work experience to enter the construction industry. He says he's already been able to use his time in the program, which is in its 13th year, to his advantage. He spent part of his summer working on a building's roof.

The Fort Dodge Messenger reports the Humboldt County Housing Development Corporation funds the annual project.


LIBERAL LAW SCHOOL?

U. Iowa defends transfer of employee in bias case

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — The University of Iowa is defending its decision to reassign a law school employee while she brings a lawsuit claiming political discrimination.

The university last month transferred Teresa Wagner from her eight-year job as associate director of the law school's writing center to a position in the main library.

The move came after Wagner last month accused her boss at the writing center of going through her backpack, and said the two could no longer work together.

In her federal lawsuit, Wagner claims she was passed over for faculty jobs because of her conservative politics.

Her attorney has alleged the reassignment amounts to a demotion and is retaliation. The university denied that, noting the transfer didn't affect Wagner's pay.

A judge will hold a hearing next month on the issue.