WINTER CHILL Bone-chilling cold grips parts of Iowa, Nebraska DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) – Weather officials say brutally cold temperatures will continue overnight in parts of northern Iowa and the upper Midwest. The National Weather Service says a wind chill advisory will remain in effect for northeast Iowa until 10 a.m. Tuesday. The wind chill will make temperatures feel like 20 to 25 degrees below zero overnight. Officials say light flurries Monday night in eastern Nebraska could make driving difficult Tuesday morning. Temperatures in Iowa are expected to rise Tuesday afternoon into Wednesday. The wind chill advisory began Monday morning in eastern Nebraska and northern Iowa. It spread into the Dakotas, Wisconsin, Minnesota and Ohio.
STOLEN CAR-STAYING WARM Iowa man says he stole vehicle to escape the cold (Information in the following story is from: Iowa City Press-Citizen, http://www.press-citizen.com/) IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) – Police in eastern Iowa say a man stole a vehicle and drove hundreds of miles south because he wanted to escape the cold weather. Harold Schneider was arrested Saturday. He faces one count of first-degree theft. The Johnson County Sheriff’s Office says Schneider stole a jeep on New Year’s Eve from a residence in Iowa City. He was caught days later about 600 miles south in Mississippi. Schneider told police he stole the jeep because he was tired of the cold and snow and wanted to go south where it was warm. Schneider remains at the Johnson County Jail on a $50,000 cash-only bond.
IOWA VOTING RULES Judge temporarily halts ACLU voter rules lawsuit DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) – A judge has temporarily halted activity in a lawsuit filed against Iowa Secretary of State Matt Schultz over a new voting rule he proposes to enact. Judge Mary Pat Gunderson says in her ruling that proceedings in the lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union should be stopped until the rule is adopted or rescinded. Her decision filed Thursday says the court will not use limited resources addressing a rule that could be substantially different in its final approval. Attorneys for Schultz and the ACLU agreed to the stay until the rule goes into effect, which is likely around March 13th. The rule establishes a way to remove voters from registration rolls if they cannot prove citizenship. The ACLU and other civil rights groups say it intimidates minority voters.
DEFAMATION LAW-IOWA Iowa justices decline to raise bar for libel suits IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) – The Iowa Supreme Court has declined to adopt a tougher standard for libel lawsuits in the age of Internet communication. The court ruled Friday it will continue to recognize a doctrine that makes it easier for plaintiffs to win defamation claims against private individuals than against media outlets. In a 5 to 2 decision, the court says the doctrine helps to “keep our social interactions from becoming ever more coarse and personally destructive.” Media groups asked the court to abandon the doctrine, which presumes that allegedly defamatory statements published by individuals are false and that plaintiffs suffer damages. Similar lawsuits against media defendants require proof of falsehood and damages. Critics say the doctrine hurts free speech and is no longer workable since the line between media and non-media publishers has been blurred.
AUTO SHOP-FIRE Iowa man hospitalized after small auto shop fire (Information in the following story is from: Sioux City Journal, http://www.siouxcityjournal.com) SIOUX CITY, Iowa (AP) – Authorities say a man has been hospitalized after a small fire at an auto repair shop in Sioux City. The man was hospitalized Monday for smoke inhalation after a small fire broke out at Gearhead Garage. Firefighters say the blaze started inside the engine compartment of a parked car inside the building. Damage was limited to the car. A manager at the shop says the man is an employee and his injuries are not serious. Authorities are trying to determine the cause of the fire.
RESTAURANT BLAZE Iowa firefighters hurt at restaurant blaze (Information in the following story is from: KCCI-TV, http://www.kcci.com) JEFFERSON, Iowa (AP) – Authorities say several firefighters have been treated for minor injuries suffered while fighting a restaurant blaze in central Iowa. Des Moines television station KCCI reports the fire was reported early Sunday morning in Jefferson, which sits about 50 miles northwest of Des Moines. Jefferson Fire Chief Randy Love says the flames had spread throughout the inside of Larry’s Restaurant and Lounge by the time firefighters arrived. Crews from five fire departments were called in to battle the blaze. The building is considered a total loss. The fire cause is being investigated.
POLICE CHASE-TEEN Iowa police say 14-year-old boy leads chase (Information in the following story is from: KWWL-TV, http://www.kwwl.com) MARION, Iowa (AP) – Authorities in northeast Iowa say a 14-year-old boy was hospitalized over the weekend after leading police on a chase. Waterloo television station KWWL reports a Marion police officer tried to stop a vehicle early Sunday morning that went over a curb and onto a sidewalk. The driver refused to stop the car and started the pursuit. Officers chased the car for 12 miles until the teen lost control and crashed. He was taken to Mercy Medical Center in Cedar Rapids with non-life-threatening injuries. Police say it’s unclear if he’s still in the hospital. Police Chief Harry Daugherty says charges are pending.
BOSWELL LAWSUIT Former Rep. Boswell drops suit against Ed Fallon DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) – Former Democratic U.S. Representative Leonard Boswell has asked a judge to dismiss a defamation lawsuit he filed against Iowa activist Ed Fallon. Fallon alleges he was offered a job to not run against Boswell in 2008. The allegation was made by Fallon in September as Boswell was facing a tough re-election campaign against Republican Rep. Tom Latham. Boswell lost to Latham in November. Fallon, a former state lawmaker, lost the 2008 Democratic primary to Boswell. He alleged that Boswell sent an aide to offer him the job to drop out of the race. Boswell denied the allegations and filed the lawsuit in late September. Boswell attorney Steve Wandro says Boswell decided to end the lawsuit after determining there’s nothing to gain now that the election is over.
JAIL THEFT Former jail employee in Iowa accused of stealing (Information in the following story is from: Sioux City Journal, http://www.siouxcityjournal.com) DAKOTA CITY, Iowa (AP) – A former jail employee in north Iowa has been accused of stealing money from an inmate. Forty-four-year-old Mason Billings of Akron, Iowa has been charged with one count of theft by unlawful taking. Court documents say Billings took $400 in September from an inmate booked at Dakota County Jail. Billings was a jail employee at the time and the money had been turned over to jail personnel. Billings was arrested Friday and is now being held at the same county jail. His next court appearance is scheduled Tuesday. Court records do not list an attorney for Billings.
MEDICAL HELICOPTER Iowa hospital gets new helicopter after crash (Information in the following story is from: Globe Gazette, http://www.globegazette.com/) MASON CITY, Iowa (AP) – A hospital in northern Iowa is receiving a temporary helicopter after its permanent service was halted by a crash. Mercy Medical Center-North Iowa will get the helicopter from Med-Trans Corporation as early as Monday. Med Trans provides helicopter transportation services to the hospital. Mercy has not announced when they will resume patient transportation services. Mercy’s helicopter services were suspended after a January 2nd crash killed the pilot and two others on board. A preliminary federal report suggests investigators will check icy conditions to try to determine what caused the crash. The helicopter had been headed to Emmetsburg, about 80 miles west of Mason City, to pick up a patient when it slammed into the ground just north of Ventura.