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Week in Iowa: Recap of news from across the state
Gazette Des Moines Bureau
Jul. 18, 2021 6:00 am
In the news
Sentencing delayed in Tibbetts case: A judge delayed sentencing for the man convicted of killing University of Iowa student Mollie Tibbetts after defense lawyers said they needed time to investigate new information pointing to other potential suspects. Cristhian Bahena Rivera, 27, was scheduled to be sentenced to life in prison without parole Thursday before his lawyers revealed newly obtained information that they say might implicate a sex trafficking ring in her kidnapping and death. Defense lawyers requested a new trial, saying two witnesses recently came forward to partially support Bahena Rivera’s testimony.
Home test: Test Iowa, the state’s free COVID-19 testing program, will transition from testing at drive-thru sites to providing access to free, self-administered test kits. Iowans will be able to receive a free kit, collect a saliva sample at home, return the sample by UPS, and receive results through email.
Plane crash: Two people died Wednesday after a private airplane they were on crashed in rural Muscatine County. Muscatine County Sheriff Quinn Riess later said the victims were identified as Daniel and Sharon Slack of El Dorado Springs, Mo.
Big reward: Officials with Crime Stoppers of the Cedar Valley announced the reward for information leading to an arrest in the 2012 slayings of cousins Elizabeth Collins and Lyric Cook topped $100,000 recently thanks to the help of two anonymous donors.
They said …
“As a matter of fact, I think she would be a great presidential candidate right now.”
— Bob Vander Plaats, a Christian conservative leader, on Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds
“We’ve really had a lot of people check out of the labor force, and we don’t know what it’s going to take to get them back in.”
— Dave Swenson, Iowa State University economist, on Iowa’s slowly recovering post-pandemic workforce
Odds and ends
Monopoly busting: U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack in Iowa announced federal plans to launch programs to increase competition in the meat processing industry and resiliency in the food supply chain.
Council actions: Members of the Legislative Council approved pay raises of 1.1 percent to cover cost-of-living increases, similar to those of other state workers, for legislative employees. The panel also approved eight interim study panels.
Conditions improve: Drought conditions persist in some parts of Iowa, but substantial rainstorms last weekend took “the edge off” concerns over developing corn and soybean crops, state officials said.
The water cooler
Recruiting women: Linda Upmeyer, the first female speaker of the Iowa House and co-chairwoman of the Republican Party of Iowa, is launching a statewide “build the bench” campaign to recruit Republican women to run for office.
Parks app: The Iowa Department Natural Resources has developed an online mapping application to help visitors navigate trails in state parks by identifying trail names, trail heads and acceptable trail uses.
Roads site: Information on Iowa’s state and U.S. highways and interstates is now on one website, 511ia.org. The new version replaces a variety of formats.
More in the news
Tornadoes hit, no deaths reported: No deaths or injuries were immediately reported from tornadoes that tore through central and Eastern Iowa, but many found damaged buildings, shredded trees and overturned vehicles in the path of the storms, officials said. Law enforcement and trained spotters confirmed several tornadoes Wednesday afternoon and night in mostly rural, uninhabited areas, the National Weather Service said. But one that touched down near Lake City in north-central Iowa damaged a home, flipped a truck and trailer, and flattened nearby corn crops, the Fort Dodge Messenger reported.
Nunn running: Republican state Sen. Zach Nunn is running for the U.S. House in central Iowa’s 3rd District. Republican state Rep. Mary Ann Hanusa previously announced her candidacy. The 3rd District is represented by Democratic U.S. Rep. Cindy Axne, who has not said whether she will seek a third term.
DeJear mulling: Deidre DeJear, a Des Moines businesswoman and former candidate for Iowa’s top elections office, announced she has formed a committee to explore a run for Iowa governor in 2022. Republican incumbent Gov. Kim Reynolds is widely expected to seek re-election.
Gambling money: Iowa’s 19 state-licensed casinos reported for fiscal 2021 adjusted gross revenue topping $3.2 billion. That includes nearly $1.6 billion via their slot machines and table games, and a separate sports wagering handle of over $1.2 billion that netted them nearly $90 million in receipts.