Area News Stories



An Oskaloosa man has entered a guilty plea in the death of a seven week old infant. 25 year old Brian Vilcone entered a guilty plea on Tuesday to one count of attempt to commit murder and one count of child endangerment resulting in death. Both are class B felonies. Judge Daniel Wilson accepted Vilcone's guilty plea and set sentencing for June 26th.

Vilcone will face a mandatory sentence of 25 years in prison for the attempt to commit murder charge and a mandatory sentence of 50 years in prison for the child endangerment resulting in death charge.

Vilcone was arrested and charged on April 23rd with first degree murder in the death of seven week old Raelynn Hart. Hart died on April 21st as a result of abusive head trauma. During an investigation, the baby's mother stated that baby had suffered the injuries while in the care of Brian Vilcone. Vilcone later admitted to shaking the baby several times to get her to stop crying.


Charges have been filed against a Texas police officer relating to the death of a Mahaska County resident. Bill Livezey died on December 11th in Texas of complications of a heart attack. According to witnesses and news reports out of Texas, Livezy was driving a pickup truck when witnesses say that a motorcyclist came upon Livezey and began to attempt to run Livezy off the roadway. Police were dispatched to the scene and upon arrival found Livezey in handcuffs on the side of the road and complaining that he was not feeling well. Livezey was transported to an area hospital where he later died.

The driver of the motorcycle was identified as Ernesto Fierro. Fierro is a police officer for the Malakoff Police Department in Texas. According to news reports, an investigation was conducted by the Texas Rangers as well as other local authorities. After the investigation, the case was turned over to the Navarro County Grand Jury in Texas.

According to documents, the Navarro County Grand Jury indicted Officer Fierro on one count of Aggravated Assault with a Deadly Weapon, one count of Official Oppression, and three counts of Reckless Driving. He pleaded not guilty on March 21st.

A trial date has not been set for Officer Fierro as of the filing of this story. In addition, request for comment from the Malakoff Police Department have not been returned. 


About 7 a.m. on Monday 4/14/2014 there was an unplanned outage and several pieces of equipment required repair in the New Sharon area; the outage affected customers in the towns of New Sharon, Peoria, Taintor and Barnes City.
• 2,638 customer’s electric service was initially impacted.
• Crews were able to restore service to 2,000 customers mid-day.
• Remaining customers were restored by 6:35 p.m. 
• Tuesday 4/15/2014 at 12:03 a.m. there was another unplanned outage and a piece of equipment needed to be repaired.
• 2,638 customer’s electric service was impacted.
• 718 customers were restored at 2:14 a.m. 
• 511 additional customers were restored at 3:31 a.m.
• The remaining customers were restored at 5:28 a.m.


Former assistant Mahaska county attorney Rich Scott has been found deceased at his Centerville apartment. According to an Appanoose county sheriffs office press release, Scott was found deceased during a welfare check. The welfare check was ordered after Scott failed to show up to work as Appanoose county attorney Friday morning. An investigation on the scene determined that Scott died of natural causes, according to the press release. 

Rich Scott became Appanoose County Attorney in 2008 after the previous county attorney resigned. Scott was later elected to the position. Prior to serving as Appanoose County Attorney, Scott served as the assistant Mahaska County Attorney. 


One person is dead after a single vehicle roll-over accident in Mahaska County early Sunday morning.

The accident happened around midnight April 13th. According to an Iowa State Patrol crash report, a 1997 ford truck was traveling westbound on 170th street near oxford avenue northeast of Oskaloosa when the driver lost control and left the roadway. The accident report states that the truck rolled and came to rest in the south ditch.

The name of the deceased is being withheld pending notification of next of kin. The accident remains under investigation.


School security has become a hot button in many districts in Iowa and around the nation. Oskaloosa is no different and the board of education took the first steps to improve the access to the school buildings.

Superintendent Russ Reiter requested the board approve a bid from Strauss Security of Des Moines. Reiter told the board he would like to see the access project divided into two parts, the main campus, which includes the high school, middle school and Daily Auditorium. Reiter said the doors would be monitored from a single server. The current doors are different in each building and this will bring uniformity to them. Cost of the project will be $32,700. The elementary project will be budgeted and done at a later time.

Board member Nik Rule said this is one issue he has heard much concern about since coming onto the board and is glad to see the project begin.

The board agreed to the tentative agreement with the Oskaloosa Education Association. The agreement, which will be voted on the by the association later this week, will be a 3.6 percent increase and includes increases for insurance.

Two new teachers were hired in the special education department at the high school for 2014-15. Both served as student teachers in the district. The teachers, Noelle Hoover and Taya (Tay-Uh) Donovan, will be hired at BA step 1 at $33,615 each.

In other business:

Heard a presentation from YMCA Executive Director Dawn Collins regarding the YMCA annual report. The report is made to the district as part of the organization's report to stakeholders.

Held public hearing and approved the 2014-15 budget. No member of the public was on hand to speak. The district is asking a $14.95 per $1,000 evaluation.

Agreed to purchase two busses from Hogeland Bus Company for $97,488 each

Approved a resolution to support the Oskaloosa Blue Zone Certification

Approved specifications to receive bids for provision of milk

Approved increase of adult lunches by 10 cents to $3.35 for the 2014-15 school year.

Approved agreement with Iowa Education Purchasing for cooperative food purchases.

Approved a resolution to participate in the 2015 hazard mitigation with the multi-jurisdiction plan

Scheduled a public hearing for a budget amendment for current budget year. Hearing will be held on Tuesday May 13 at 7 p.m.


The Oskaloosa City Council met in regular session Monday evening with Mayor Dave Krutzfeldt presiding. The main agenda item before the council Monday evening was a presentation on the Oskaloosa Blue Zones Project. Miranda Cummings and Valin McReynolds presented to the Oskaloosa City Council on the Blue Zones project and highlighted some of the goals that are hoped to be achieved over the next 18 months in Oskaloosa. Cummings, Reynolds, and Spry also fielded questions from the City Council regarding City involvement in the project. A formal kickoff to the Oskaloosa Blue Zones project is planned for next Monday April 14th.

The council also approved the appointment of two individuals to the Oskaloosa Municipal Housing Agency. Matt Montavon and Linda Russell were both unanimously appointed to the commission.

City Councilors also took the first steps for a major street reconstruction project. The council unanimously approved a professional services agreement between the City of Oskaloosa and Garden and Associates for the Third Avenue East Reconstruction and Storm Sewer Replacement project. The professional services agreement between the city and garden and associates is approximately $182,000. The agreement covers design and bid phase services and construction phase services. The cost of the road reconstruction project is estimated to be around $1,050,000 and will be funded primarily through Local Option Sale Tax monies. Bids for this project will be advertised at a later date.

In other action, the City Council:

· Unanimously approved a request from Main Street Oskaloosa for street closings for the 2014 Main Street Oskaloosa events

· Unanimously approved pay request number five to DeLong Construction in an amount of approximately $15,000 for work completed on the West Side Sanitary Sewer Project.

· Unanimously approved a 28E agreement between the City of Oskaloosa and the Forest Cemetery Association.

· Unanimously approved a resolution setting the April 21st City Council meeting as the time and place for an appeal relating to the removal of Erin Keltner as a member of the Oskaloosa Water Board.

The next meeting of the Oskaloosa City Council will be on April 21st at 4:30 pm in the City Council chambers.


The following guidelines will be used for the pickup:
1.) The city will be divided into four quadrants:
· The southeast quadrant (south of A Avenue East and east of South Market) will be picked up on Monday, April 28.
· The northeast quadrant (north of A Avenue East and east of North Market Street) will be picked up on Tuesday, April 29.
· The northwest quadrant (north of A Avenue West and west of North Market Street) will be picked up on Wednesday, April 30.
· The southwest quadrant (south of A Avenue West and west of South Market Street) will be picked up on Thursday, May 1.
2.) Items must be placed on the curb or edge of the property by 7:00 a.m. on the morning of
pickup for that area of town. Each quadrant will only be picked up on the day scheduled.
The event is open to all Oskaloosa residents. 

The city will not pick up any garbage bags, yard waste, paint cans (unless open and dried out), batteries, hazardous waste items or construction material. Items not picked up by the city will be the responsibility of the property owner or renter to properly dispose of within 24 hours. If you have any questions, call Public Works 673-7472 or City Hall 673-9431
Only the following items will be picked up:
• Furniture
• Appliances: (Limit 3 per household)
Hot water heaters,
• Other large, bulky items the
garbage haulers cannot pick up.

Tires must be taken directly to the
Mahaska County Landfill at 2979
HWY 63 from April 28th– May 3rd
Hours: Mon - Fri 7:00 am - 3:45 pm
Sat 7:00 am - 11:45 am
· No tires from Semi,
Construction, farm, hobby- such
as race car tires
· Maximum 10 tires per load.
· Maximum 1 load per event.
· Provide house address to landfill


The Oskaloosa Fire Department wants remind everyone that we are entering warm weather months and severe weather season. 

Weather permitting, the storm sirens in Oskaloosa are tested at 2pm on the first Monday of each month from April through September. 

The outdoor storm warning sirens will be activated if the national weather service has issued a tornado warning for Mahaska County and the tornado is headed in a direction that would likely affect the city of Oskaloosa. Also, if a trained storm spotter indicates to the 911 center that a severe thunderstorm contains damaging winds and or hail, the sirens can be activated. 
If the storm sirens are sounded for a severe weather event, you need to take shelter right away. Get to the lowest level of your home and move to an interior room or hallway. If you are outside and cannot find indoor shelter, you need to get to the lowest place you can find such as a ditch or culvert and cover your head.


On April 26 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. the Ottumwa Police Department, the Southeast Iowa Inter-Agency Drug Task Force and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) will give the public its eighth opportunity in three years to prevent pill abuse and theft by ridding their homes of potentially dangerous expired, unused, and unwanted prescription drugs. Bring your pills for disposal to Center Court of the Quincy Place Mall located at 1110 N. Quincy Avenue. (The DEA cannot accept liquids or needles or sharps, only pills or patches.) The service is free and anonymous, no questions asked.

Last October, Americans turned in 324 tons (over 647,000 pounds) of prescription drugs at over 4,114 sites operated by the DEA and its thousands of state and local law enforcement partners. When those results are combined with what was collected in its seven previous Take Back events, DEA and its partners have taken in over 3.4 million pounds—more than 1,700 tons—of pills. 

This initiative addresses a vital public safety and public health issue. Medicines that languish in home cabinets are highly susceptible to diversion, misuse, and abuse. Rates of prescription drug abuse in the U.S. are alarmingly high, as are the number of accidental poisonings and overdoses due to these drugs. Studies show that a majority of abused prescription drugs are obtained from family and friends, including from the home medicine cabinet. In addition, Americans are now advised that their usual methods for disposing of unused medicines—flushing them down the toilet or throwing them in the trash—both pose potential safety and health hazards. 

DEA is in the process of approving new regulations that implement the Safe and Responsible Drug Disposal Act of 2010, which amends the Controlled Substances Act to allow an “ultimate user” (that is, a patient or their family member or pet owner) of controlled substance medications to dispose of them by delivering them to entities authorized by the Attorney General to accept them. The Act also allows the Attorney General to authorize long term care facilities to dispose of their residents’ controlled substances in certain instances. 

For more information please contact Sgt. Jason Parmenter of the Ottumwa Police Department at 641-683-0661.


March 10, 2014– Oskaloosa, IA – The United Way of Mahaska County is holding its 6th Annual Live United 5K & YMCA Healthy Kids Day on Saturday, April 26th at the Penn Activity Center on the William Penn University campus. 

This year’s event is all about promoting health in Mahaska County. We’re partnering with the YMCA to give adults and children a fun and exciting day, all while promoting our healthy living initiatives. Family day events will be held from 9:00 am to 12:30 pm, and include numerous free kid-friendly activities such as crafts, balloon animals, games, bounce houses, community booths, raffle prizes, and more. 
To pre-register for the 5K race, go to and search LIVE UNITED. Pre-registration for the race is $25 and ends April 25th. Race day registration for the 5K Run/Walk begins at 8:00 am. Race day registration is $30.
There will again be free “fun run” races for children in separate age categories. There will also be lots of giveaways for kids.

The United Way of Mahaska County is asking local businesses to participate in the 6th annual event by becoming a sponsor, donating prizes, volunteering, or helping out in any way possible. Contact Lindsey Sheets at 641.673.6043 for more information about sponsorship or to sign up to volunteer. 

As always, the United Way is truly grateful for the support from our local business leaders, their employees and families.



State auditor investigating secret settlements

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Iowa Auditor Mary Mosiman says she is conducting an audit of confidential secret settlements that have enveloped Gov. Terry Branstad's administration in controversy for more than a month.

Mosiman says in a letter to Democratic Sen. Jack Hatch she began to review the settlement agreements shortly after she learned of them. She says her office is working to identify anything improper or inappropriate. She says she'll issue a public report when the investigation is concluded.

Hatch, who's running against Branstad for governor, sent Mosiman a letter April 8 asking for an audit.

He also wants the Legislature to approve funds for a broader independent audit from a firm outside the government to ensure politics is removed from the process.

Mosiman, a Republican, was appointed by Branstad last year.


Man dies after off-roading accident in Des Moines

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Authorities say a man has died after an off-roading accident in southeast Des Moines.

Police say the man and some friends were riding in a wooded area south of the Des Moines River when the vehicle he was in got stuck in a pool of water on Sunday evening.

Fire Department spokesman Brian O'Keefe says the man later identified as 21-year-old Matthew Wade Blackford, of Des Moines, went underwater while trying to free the vehicle but didn't come back up.

Blackford's friends pulled him out of the water, called 911 just before 8 p.m. and performed CPR until paramedics arrived. He was pronounced dead later at Mercy Medical Center.


Des Moines police identify teen killed by train

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Des Moines police have identified a teenager who died while trying to climb aboard a slow-moving freight train.

Police announced Monday that 18-year-old Phillip Tyshawn Simmons died in the early morning accident.

Officers were called to a crossing on the city's east side at 1:18 a.m. and determined that a teen had been waiting with friends at a rail crossing. The teen tried to climb onto the train, possibly to cross to the other side.

Police say he fell during this attempt. He was caught beneath the train and dragged along the tracks.

The train operator was notified and stopped the cars while police investigated. Several rail crossings were blocked by the train through the early morning hours.


Dubuque man seeks more details about sinkholes

DUBUQUE, Iowa (AP) - A Dubuque man is calling for state and local officials to help homeowners learn about sinkholes that might damage their property.

Nick Thumma told the Telegraph Herald he's been pushing governments to be more proactive on the issue since a street in front of his house repeatedly sunk. City crews determined there was a collapsed mine shaft beneath the street.

During the mid-1800s, zinc and lead mines were dug throughout Dubuque. Those mines were rarely properly capped after miners moved on.

Thumma says the city should make information about the mines and tunnels easily available, and homeowners should be able to buy insurance specifically to protect themselves against damage from sinkholes. Some states mandate the creation of such risk pools, but Iowa isn't among them.


UNI may cut hours for students at on-campus jobs

CEDAR FALS, Iowa (AP) - University of Northern Iowa officials are considering reducing the maximum number of hours students can work at jobs on campus.

The Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier reports the university has proposed reducing the maximum hours students can work at on-campus job from 30 hours a week to 20 hours. Students couldn't work more than 320 hours each semester.

The proposal, now posted on the university's website for public comment, is an effort to formalize UNI's policy and ensure academic activities take precedence over work. Officials say the move also would make more jobs available to students.

But students like Katie Titus say they rely on the income from their jobs. Titus works 25 to 35 hours weekly at a campus dining center. She may have to quit if her hours are cut.


Waterloo seeks guidelines for roadside memorials

WATERLOO, Iowa (AP) - Waterloo officials are considering limiting roadside memorials erected at the site of deadly car crashes.

The Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier reports a majority of the City Council called last week for an ordinance that would set rules for the memorials, such as the allowable size and time they could remain.

Council member David Jones argued "at some point you have to draw the line somewhere."

However, some council members say the rules would be difficult to enforce. And Mayor Buck Clark says drawing up an ordinance would "open up a can of worms."

Waterloo and most other cities already make it illegal to erect signs or displays in public right of ways, but officials usually allow memorials to crash victims.

Council member Steve Schmitt says guidelines would ensure consistent enforcement.