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Attorneys argue for reduced bond for Techel; Fairfield Loop Trail honored; Jefferson County Health Center recognized; more

Nov 26, 2013

Attorneys argue for reduced bond for Techel

ALBIA (AP) — Attorneys for an Iowa man accused of killing his pregnant wife have argued for a reduced bond.

The Des Moines Register reports attorneys met Monday to discuss Seth Techel’s request to lower his bond from $750,000 to $75,000, and remove restrictions on travel and whom he can contact.

Prosecutors said Seth Techel is a flight risk, and the victim’s family would fear for their safety if he was released on a lower bond. The defense said it was a baseless argument.

Seth Techel is charged with first-degree murder in the May 2012 death of Lisa Techel. Both of his trials this year have ended in mistrial. Prosecutors say they will try Seth Techel a third time.

A judge is expected to rule on the bond at a later date.


Fairfield Loop Trail honored at regional meeting

AMES — One Iowa trail and one Iowa trails enthusiast were recently recognized at the 2013 Mid America Trails and Greenways Conference in Matteson, Ill.

Iowa received awards for the Fairfield Loop Trail and for Chuck Offenburger of the Raccoon River Valley Trail Association Board.

This was the sixth MATAG regional conference hosted by Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio, and Wisconsin.

As part of the activities, each state was asked to submit an award nomination to recognize both a person and a project with significant impact on trails in its state.

The recently completed 16-mile Fairfield Loop Trail was built one segment at a time to circle the city. In 2009, two major segments were completed, the Iowa Department of Transportation-South segment built by the Iowa D.O.T. that parallels a new U.S. 34 bypass and the Bill Matkin Memorial Bridge that allows safe passage for trail users over busy Iowa 1.

The Loop Trail begins and ends next to the historic Maasdam Barns, which was recently renovated as a museum and visitor center. With more than a decade of volunteerism, the Jefferson County Trails Council and many community volunteers made the trail vision a reality with a bold and ambitious plan for a small rural community.

Offenburger is a member of the Raccoon River Valley Trail Association Board and was instrumental in creating the association in 2006. The RRVT is now 89 miles in length and is the longest paved loop trail in the nation. Offenburger’s enthusiasm, visionary leadership, and creative writing style on the trail’s website www.raccoonrivervalleytrail.org have all contributed to the popularity of trail riding in Iowa and economic growth in the communities along the RRVT.


Jefferson County Health Center recognized

Jefferson County Health Center was recognized as an award winner for Excellence in Patient Satisfaction on National Rural Health Day.

Thursday was National Rural Health Day, and Jefferson County Health Center was named a HealthStrong Award winner for Excellence in Patient Satisfaction by iVantage Health Analytics. The award reflects top quartile performance among all acute care hospitals in the nation.

“Patient satisfaction is one of our primary goals, and we are proud to be acknowledged for our hard work and dedicated focus in this area,” said Deb Cardin, CEO.

The HealthStrong Awards are based on The Hospital Strength Index, a national ratings program developed by iVantage to recognize top performing hospitals based on key metrics critical to success in the new healthcare marketplace. The Hospital Strength Index ranks all 4,400-plus U.S. general acute care hospitals, including the 1,300-plus Critical Access Hospitals.

Small and rural hospitals play a critical role in providing efficient and effective healthcare that is comparable to its larger urban counterparts.

“Rural hospitals have new and difficult demands that can only be managed with better information,” said John Morrow, executive vice president of iVantage Health Analytics Inc. “The Hospital Strength Index reflects the multiple challenges of running a hospital by incorporating the measures on which the industry has worked to gain consensus and standardization.”


Tugboat sinks in Mississippi River in eastern Iowa

DES MOINES (AP) — Officials were assessing the environmental damage today after a towboat carrying 100,000 gallons of diesel fuel and oil sank in the Mississippi River in near Le Claire, closing the river to barge traffic.

Members of the U.S. Coast Guard, the Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and other organizations don’t yet know what the towboat struck before it began sinking around 4:30 p.m. Monday. Nine crew members safely escaped.

The river cannot be opened to traffic until the cause of the accident is determined and safe navigation is ensured.

The boat is still leaking diesel fuel and oil, and the smell of diesel fuel lingers, though air monitors show it’s safe to breathe in the area. Booms are containing and collecting 90 percent of what’s been spilled.

Officials are developing a plan to raise the boat stranded in about 14 feet of water and pushed up against the riverbank. The upper portion of the boat’s superstructure is still visible.

No fish kill is evident but representatives of the EPA and Fish and Wildlife Service were en route today.


Traffic accident fatalities in Iowa dropped in past year

DES MOINES (AP) — The number of fatalities from traffic accidents has dropped to 280 in Iowa as the state heads into the holiday season.

Iowa State Patrol Sgt. Scott Bright told Des Moines television station KCCI that the total was 42 under the 322 fatalities Iowa had suffered by this date in 2012.

Bright cited several reasons for the drop. They include increased enforcement and driver education and improvements in vehicle safety features and design.

Bright also said new safety features on Iowa’s interstates are helping keep people alive. Among them are cable barriers that keep vehicles from crossing into oncoming traffic.


Record $256 million in liquor sold last fiscal year

DES MOINES (AP) — The state of Iowa sold a record $256 million in liquor last fiscal year, led by a trend toward flavored liquors.

The state’s wholesale liquor operation saw a 5.6 percent increase in sales during the year ending June 30.

Retailers and restaurateurs say the sales have been pushed by new flavors. Brian Duax, of Central City Liquors in Des Moines, told The Des Moines Register “younger customers want something different.”

The Iowa Alcoholic Beverages Division says that, on average, an Iowa adult age 21 or older consumed 2.27 gallons of spirits, 2.03 gallons of wine and 33.56 gallons of beer last fiscal year.

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