KXEL Morning News for Tue. Sep. 15, 2020

KXEL Morning News for Tue. Sep. 15, 2020

Federal regulators have handed a victory to corn farmers by refusing to allow a group of petroleum refiners in 14 states to forego requirements to blend ethanol into the gasoline they make. Members of Congress from farm states have heavily lobbied President Donald Trump to reject the waiver requests for months. In addition, the president is allowing E-15 blends to run through E-10 pumps. U.S. Sen. Charles Grassley of New Hartford praised the move. More of my conversation with Sen. Grassley during the 10 o’clock hour of KXEL Live & Local today.

All three Regents universities yesterday announced modifications to the spring 2021 calendar to allow in-person classes to continue while minimizing the risk of COVID-19. Spring classes at the University of Northern Iowa, Iowa State University, and the University of Iowa will start later than normal, with a planned start date of Monday, January 25. There will not be a spring break, and final exams will be held from May 3 to May 7.

Iowa City Police are investigating a report of a robbery that happened overnight Monday. Authorities say it happened just before 2:30 a.m., in the 300 block of East Court Street. The victim reported being assaulted by three males who demanded money. The victim complied and the suspects left with an undisclosed amount of money. The suspects are described has having dark skin and in their early 20’s. All three were also wearing dark clothing.

Law enforcement authorities say a 16-year-old died and another was injured when they were shot while trying to rob a group of people in Des Moines. Police say 16-year-old Liem Deng and another 16-year-old were armed with handguns when they tried to rob the group around 6 o’clock yesterday morning on the city’s north side. An adult man in the group drew his gun and fired several times at the two teens. Police say the man had a concealed carry permit for his gun. After consulting with the Polk County Attorney’s Office, the incident was ruled self-defense and no charges will be filed. This is the 18th homicide in Des Moines this year. 

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An Iowa judge has voided absentee ballot requests in Johnson County, where the county auditor had mailed 92,000 of the forms to voters with personal information already filled in. It’s the third county in Iowa to have the ballot request forms voided after the county election officials violated state law and directive of the Iowa Secretary of State…court decisions in both Linn and Woodbury counties had been handed down earlier. Yesterday’s order directs the Johnson County Auditor’s office to contact voters in writing to inform them the prepopulated absentee ballot request form should not have been sent and that the auditor cannot act on those pre-populated forms.

The U.S. ambassador to China will step down early next month, ending a three-year tenure marked by a trade war and increasingly bitter relations between the world’s two largest economies. The U.S. Embassy in Beijing says Iowan Terry Branstad confirmed his decision in a phone call with President Donald Trump last week. U.S. Sen. Charles Grassley talked to me yesterday about Branstad’s service. Hear the full conversation with Sen. Grassley in the 10 o’clock hour of KXEL Live & Local today.

Waterloo Police are investigating multiple tire slashing incidents. More than 20 cars had their tires punctured over the weekend. A few cars had multiple tires slashed. Police believe the incidents are connected. They all happened in the approximate area from West 1st to Washington, Washington to West 8th, West 8th to Johnson, Johnson to Locust and Locust back to West 1st. Police are looking for anyone with video showing the area, from the evening hours of Saturday to noon on Sunday.

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Waterloo City Council members voted unanimously last night to approve $4 million in new general obligation bonds to fund renovations at the Five Sullivan Brothers Convention Center. The bonds will be sold next spring to fund lobby remodeling at the center. Council members also agreed last night to award Cardinal Construction of Waterloo a $5.5 million bid to do the lobby work. The remaining $1.5 million will come from existing bond money left over from other projects, at the convention center. The project is estimated to be completed at this time next year.

If nothing is done, the federal government will shut down at the end of this month, the end of the federal fiscal year. Also on Congress’ agenda, passage of another COVID-related financial package. According to U.S. Sen. Charles Grassley, the most recent attempt was blocked by Democrats. More with Sen. Grassley in the 10 o’clock hour of KXEL Live & Local today.

The Waverly City Council is one step closer to limiting displays of fireworks within city limits to just three days around Independence Day in July, rather than the current two weeks. Council members voted 5-2 last night to approve second reading of such an ordinance. The ordinance would shorten the city’s window for shooting off fireworks from two weeks to three days, from July 3-5. The New Year’s time frame was not addressed by the amendment. The move is in response to complaints from citizens.

Two people were injured in a collision that occurred just after 10 a.m. yesterday. Officials said it occurred at U.S. Highway 30 and Charles Avenue just east of Lisbon. Three vehicles were involved ultimately, but it started when two vehicles collided head-on. One person was airlifted to the hospital, while the other went via ambulance. 

The Mason City Police Department is investigating a pair of weekend shootings. Police said the first one occurred at 3:10 a.m. Saturday in the 10 block of 3rd St. NW when a man approached three people in an alley and started shooting. No injuries were reported. The second happened Saturday at 3:59 p.m. in the 900 block of N. Pennsylvania Ave. Police said two vehicles were traveling north and were exchanging gunfire. Several residents reported the shooting, and officers did recover evidence from both scenes. Police said there is no threat to the community. 

Iowa authorities have ruled the cause of death of a 66-year-old northwest Iowa man as undetermined after initially investigating it as a homicide. David Davenport died in October after tenants on his property found him injured inside a rental property near his home in Sergeant Bluff. Authorities became aware of his death two days later, when a fire damaged his home on the property. Authorities ruled his death a homicide after a preliminary autopsy. Investigators later determined the house fire was accidental. Earlier this month, after further reviewing all the evidence, the Iowa Medical Examiner ruled the cause of Davenport’s death was undetermined.