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Regional News

Regional News Updates from the Associated Press

July 20, 2019

Iowa News Updates

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) – An Iowa State University graduate student accused of sex crimes during his time at the school has been indicted on federal child pornography charges. Federal prosecutors say 33-year-old Jona Shitaleni Paulus, of Ames, was charged Thursday by a grand jury with one count of receiving and one count of possessing child pornography. The Des Moines Register says Paulus was taken into federal custody Thursday, one day after he was sentenced to 90 days in jail related to his guilty plea in a state case.

KNOXVILLE, Iowa (AP) – The parents of an underweight baby girl who tested positive for cocaine have been sentenced to probation. The Des Moines Register reports that 20-year-old Stazia Kirk and 21-year-old Zak Herman, both of Pella, were sentenced Thursday. . The pleaded guilty in May to felony neglect of a dependent person. Court documents say their 3-month-old baby, Charlotte, weighed less than her birth weight when she was taken to a hospital in December.

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) – Iowa’s 14-year-old voter registration system will live to see another presidential election. The Iowa Secretary of State’s office confirmed that a long-discussed plan to replace the I-Voters system will not be completed before the 2020 elections. Spokesman Kevin Hall says the office is still in the information-gathering phase of the project. Critics worry that the current system is running on outdated technology and could be vulnerable to hackers.

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) – A state court judge has dismissed a lawsuit filed in May challenging a new state law that prohibits the use of Medicaid funding for gender reassignment surgery. Judge David Porter says in an order filed Thursday that the two people who filed the lawsuit must first seek to have their surgeries approved by the Iowa Department of Human Services through Medicaid and follow an administrative appeals process.

Wisconsin News Updates

JANESVILLE, Wis. (AP) – The Rock County Courthouse was closed for the day after a chemical incident. The sheriff’s office says a facilities management worker was mixing chemicals to treat water for the building’s air cooling system at about 8:30 a.m. Friday when the fire alarm activated. Deputies began evacuating people and the Janesville Fire Department’s hazardous materials team responded. A worker exposed to the chemical cloud was taken to the hospital and one deputy was treated at the scene.

BRISTOL, Wis. (AP) – Authorities say a man who was pulled from a burning house in Bristol has died. Sixty-seven-year-old James Weiss died Thursday shortly after he was brought to a hospital. A woman and the family’s dogs were able to escape. The cause of the fire is still being investigated but authorities say it does not appear to be suspicious.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) – Utility officials say they have not yet identified the cause of a pair of blasts that knocked out electricity to about 13,000 customers. Madison Gas and Electric and American Transmission Co. say heat was ruled out as a potential cause. American Transmission Co. Vice President Paul Roehr says officials are looking at possible mechanical issues. Power had been restored to nearly everyone by Friday evening, though there were fluctuations in numbers as power was coming back on.

CLEVELAND (AP) – The head of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has announced a $2 million grant program to clean up the shorelines and waters of the Great Lakes. EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler during an appearance Friday in Cleveland says the grants will be available to state and local governments, nonprofit groups and universities for cleanup programs. Wheeler says removing trash from U.S. waterways is an EPA priority.

Illinois News Updates

CHICAGO (AP) – Organizers of Chicago’s Humana Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon series have canceled one of its three weekend races due to concerns about high temperatures. The 5K race scheduled to begin early Saturday in Grant Park was canceled after temperatures were forecast to be too dangerous. The race’s organizers posted the cancellation on Facebook late Friday. The National Weather Service forecast temperatures will reach 94 degrees Saturday, with the heat index expected to be between 105 to 110 degrees.

CHICAGO (AP) – A judge has ordered R&B singer R. Kelly to be transferred from Chicago to New York City for an Aug. 2 hearing on federal sex charges. Judge Harry Leinenweber issued the transfer order on Thursday. Kelly was already facing state sexual abuse charges in Illinois when he was arrested July 11 on federal indictments in Chicago and New York. He is being held in a Chicago jail without bond.

PEORIA, Ill. (AP) – Authorities have suggested that the remains of a slain scholar from China may never be found despite a vow from prosecutors that the search will continue. Brendt Christensen, a former doctoral student in Illinois, killed Yingying Zhang in 2017. In recent filings, prosecutors said they rejected a plea deal with Christensen after concluding it’d be impossible to verify any details Christensen would provide about where Zhang’s remains are. He was sentenced Thursday to life in prison without parole

BETTENDORF, Iowa (AP) – Authorities are warning recreational boaters on the Mississippi River to remain vigilant amid the ongoing construction of a new Interstate 74 span linking Iowa and Illinois. The Quad City Times reports the construction zone is potentially dangerous for recreational boaters. Danielle Alvarez, the project manager for the Iowa Department of Transportation, says boaters should slow to a crawl when in and near the work zone.

Iowa News

July 19, 2019

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) – A police spokesman says a woman killed along with her two young children this week had come to Des Moines to work with the man charged in their deaths. A Guatemala national, 31-year-old Marvin Oswaldo Escobar-Orellana, has been charged with three counts of first-degree murder in the shooting deaths of 29-year-old Rossibeth Flores-Rodriguez, her 11-year-old daughter and her and 5-year-old son. Their bodies were found Tuesday night at the home they shared with Escobar-Orellana.

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) – A spokesman for Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds now says a mass email praising rapper Tupac Shakur wasn’t why Reynolds ousted an agency director. Reynolds spokesman Pat Garrett was asked last week whether the agency-wide email sent by Department of Human Services Director Jerry Foxhoven was linked to the governor’s request that he resign the next work day. He said only that a “number of factors” went into the decision. On Thursday, he told the Des Moines Register that “of course” the email wasn’t one.

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) – More bankers surveyed in parts of 10 Plains and Western states say President Donald Trump’s trade skirmishes are having a negative effect on their local economies. The Rural Mainstreet survey released Thursday shows the survey’s overall index falling from 53.2 in June to 50.2 this month. Any score above 50 suggests a growing economy, while a score below 50 indicates a shrinking economy.

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) – Pope Francis has selected a priest from the Dubuque Archdiocese to become bishop of the Des Moines Diocese. The selection of the Rev. William Joensen was announced Thursday. Joensen replaces Bishop Richard Pates, who turned 75 last year and, as required by the church, submitted his resignation. He’s held the post since 2008.

Wisconsin News

July 19, 2019

UNDATED (AP) – America’s fast-growing web of doorbell cameras is being fueled in part by the support of cities and police departments. They see the cameras as a tech ally in the never-ending fight against crime. But some privacy advocates worry that the program is being driven by overblown fears of crime and contributes to a surveillance society.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) – Gov. Tony Evers says he’s starting a search for the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation’s next leader. State law prevents Evers from replacing current WEDC Secretary Mark Hogan before Sept. 1. Evers said Thursday he’s starting to look for applicants. Anyone who’s interested can submit a resume through Evers’ website.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) – Wisconsin wildlife officials are working on technology to help pinpoint where hunters killed deer they turn for testing for chronic wasting disease tests. Department of Natural Resources Wildlife Health Section Chief Tami Ryan told the agency board’s CWD subcommittee on Thursday that hunter-supplied information on the location where they killed deer turned in for sampling can be imprecise, a problem when the agency is trying to closely monitor the disease’s spread.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) – The Republican leader of the Wisconsin state Senate is calling for a veto override after Gov. Tony Evers’ administration said Milwaukee’s streetcar could compete for $75 million in grant money. Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald called for the veto override on Thursday. His call came shortly after Transportation Secretary Craig Thompson outlined how the new $75 million grant program would work.

Illinois News

July 19, 2019

PEORIA, Ill. (AP) – A federal judge has castigated an ex-University of Illinois student for showing no remorse for his slaying of a scholar from China and for not apologizing to his victim’s family. Judge James Shadid spoke Thursday as he sentenced Brendt Christensen to life in prison hours after jurors couldn’t agree on whether the 30-year-old should be put to death for killing 26-year-old Yingying Zhang. Shadid said Christensen’s “inexplicable act of violence” was done to “fulfill self-absorbed fantasies.”

CHICAGO (AP) – The Chicago Police Board has fired four police officers for covering up a white officer’s 2014 fatal shooting of black teenager Laquan McDonald. Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson in 2016 accused Sgt. Stephen Franko and officers Janet Mondragon, Daphne Sebastian and Ricardo Viramontes of either giving or approving false statements to have the shooting of the 17-year-old McDonald by Jason Van Dyke deemed justified. Van Dyke was convicted of murder and sentenced to more than six years in prison.

CHICAGO (AP) – An unannounced active shooter drill at a Chicago office building caused worker panic and an aggressive response by police. Officials say police got a call Thursday afternoon of workers hiding because of a shooter on the seventh floor. Police officers carrying shields split into teams on the floor, where they found no evidence of gunfire. Grim-faced workers were later seen leaving the building. A police commander says the city will determine how building management “can do better next time.”

CHICAGO (AP) – Attorneys for neighbors of a suburban Chicago medical equipment cleaning plant are criticizing an agreement between the state of Illinois and the plant’s owner. The lawyers say the deal between Sterigenics LLC, the attorney general’s office and DuPage County officials Berlin doesn’t go far enough and shows Sterigenics operates in bad faith. They say Sterigenics shouldn’t operate in a densely populated area as long as it emits any of the cancer-causing chemical ethylene oxide.