KXEL Morning News for Tue. Jun. 30, 2020

KXEL Morning News for Tue. Jun. 30, 2020

Today is the end of the second quarter of 2020, which means release of the Iowa Business Council’s quarterly survey of members. Joe Murphy is executive director of the group, and while results are not public until later this morning, he did tell me there is reason for optimism in the data despite the effects of the pandemic. You can hear the results and my full conversation with Joe Murphy during the 9 o’clock hour of KXEL Live & Local today.

We now know the identity of the man who drowned at Martin Marietta Quarry in Linn County Sunday morning…he’s 19-year-old Jake Beirnes from Cedar Rapids. He was with a group of family and friends fishing when he attempted to swim a short distance and went under water. His body was found about 90 minutes after the first reports were made to law enforcement.

A state inspection report says a nursing assistant who worked while sick may have introduced the coronavirus into an Iowa nursing home where fifteen residents died. The report says the employee was allowed to keep working because the Crystal Heights Care Center in Oskaloosa failed to screen staff members for symptoms at the beginning of their shifts. It says employees were allowed to “self-screen” without independent monitoring. The Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals has proposed an $8,750 fine. Home administrator Jay Wills says the facility is disputing the violation, saying the state had approved its screening plan. 

Gov. Kim Reynolds issued a disaster proclamation yesterday for two more Iowa counties–Fayette and Van Buren—this, in response to a severe storm system that began June 20th. Previously, the governor included Black Hawk County in a similar proclamation. This allows state resources to be utilized to respond to and recover from the effects of this severe weather and activates the Iowa Individual Assistance Grant Program for qualifying residents, along with the Disaster Case Management Program for counties. Iowa residents of counties impacted by the recent severe weather are asked to report damage to help local and state officials better understand the damage sustained.

The United States/Mexico/Canada trade agreement, USMCA, takes effect tomorrow. Mike Paustian of Walcott is president of the Iowa Pork Producers Association; he reminds us of the importance of USMCA for Iowa’s pork industry. We’ve told you previously of concerns about Canada and dairy products as the new agreement’s terms go into effect.

The U.S. Supreme Court has refused to block the execution of four federal prison inmates, including one who committed crimes in Iowa, who are scheduled to be put to death in July and August. The executions would mark the first use of the death penalty on the federal level since 2003. The justices rejected an appeal from four inmates, all of whom were convicted of killing children. The court’s action leaves no obstacles standing in the way of the executions, the first of which is scheduled for July 13. The inmates are separately asking a federal judge in Washington to impose a new delay on their executions over other legal issues that have yet to be resolved.  One of these is Dustin Honken, who was convicted in 2004 of killing a total of five people in Iowa…and who some believe has information of value in the Jodi Huisentruit missing persons case from 25 years ago.

As businesses reopen and the economy rebounds, it’s time to reassess how we do business, according to Joe Murphy, executive director of the Iowa Business Council. The IBC’s quarterly survey of members on optimism, anticipated sales, and staffing will be made public later this morning; we’ll hear details from Joe Murphy during KXEL Live & Local today; the program begins at 9 a.m.

New information was released Monday in the case of the hit-and-run accident two years ago that killed 14-year-old Kaiden Estling. Court documents state that 26-year-old Kelli Jo Michael was using an electronic device—such as a cell phone–at the time of the accident. Investigators announced Michael’s arrest on Friday. She’s been charged with Homicide by Vehicle-Reckless Driving and leaving the scene of an accident. Michael’s arraignment is scheduled for July 20th. She is being held in the Fayette County Jail on a $50,000 cash-only bond.

Cedar Falls is not the only school which has had to suspended summer sports due to team members testing positive for COVID-19…now comes word that Des Moines Lincoln softball players and coaches have been ordered to self-isolate for 14 days after a total of three persons associated with the team tested positive. The school district says the team could resume practice and play on July 9.

One person is in custody following a chase that ended when the fleeing vehicle crashed into a home Monday morning. The name of the driver hasn’t been released by police, and no injuries were reported. Authorities say the incident started with an attempted traffic stop around Ridgeway Avenue in Cedar Falls; a chase continued east into Waterloo where the driver briefly drove through a field near Provision Parkway. Ultimately the chase ended when the car struck a central air unit and slammed it into a house on Chicago Street.