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Brittney Griner back home in US after Russian prisoner swap

SAN ANTONIO (AP) — Brittney Griner has returned to the United States, nearly 10 months after the basketball star’s detention in Russia made her the most high-profile American jailed abroad and set off a political firestorm. Griner’s status as an openly gay Black woman, her prominence in women’s basketball and her imprisonment in a country where authorities have been hostile to the LBGTQ community brought tremendous attention to her case. Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine after her arrest complicated matters further. A deal announced Thursday saw Griner exchanged for notorious arms dealer Viktor Bout. Griner was seen getting off a plane that landed Friday in Texas.

State regulators approve open raccoon trapping season

By Dar Danielson (Radio Iowa)

The Iowa Natural Resources Commission has approved a Department of Natural Resources proposal to create a continuous open season for raccoons.

DNR wildlife biologist Vince Evelsizer told the commission the request was not taken lightly and came after a review of various raccoon population surveys. “It starts with our annual wildlife surveys. So for example, the spring spotlight survey that our staff do statewide, that’s showing a consistent increase in the raccoon population,” Everlsizer says.

He says there’s been a steady increase in the raccoon population in roughly the last 20 years. Evelsizer says they also have consulted with the wildlife depredation staff that deal with raccoons and deer and other animals that annually eat up crops and cause other problems.

“Those depredation staff are already dealing with nuisance raccoons and crops. And all wildlife staff and law enforcement staff are dealing with raccoons and attics, raccoons and barns, raccoons and farm equipment, and things like that,” he says. Evelsizer says having a continuous raccoon season will provide some help with the issues.

“What we’re proposing here won’t fix the problem, what we’re proposing is to make adjustments that are within our means to give folks a little more freedom to deal with a population of raccoons that has increased and is high,” he says. Evelsizer says they’ve also seen an increase in distemper outbreaks around the state — which he says is typically indicative of a high density of raccoons.

“And when a raccoon gets distemper — it’s not it’s not a pretty thing — they carry it, they can spread it to others, then they will die from that usually, and it’s not a quick death either,” according to Evelsizer. “So that’s not a thing we’d like to see out there on the landscape either.”

The senior director in the Wildlife Protection department at the Humane Society of the United States, Jill Frtiz, did speak out against the issue during the public comment portion of the NRC meeting. “Instead of Iowa randomly killing more raccoons, we suggest that reports of high raccoon densities and claims of increased raccoon conflict and predation should be carefully reviewed against current human population density, and movement and development, local agriculture practices, and the effects of growth and climate change on native wildlife habitat factors,” Fritz says.

The Natural Resources Commission also approved a proposal to extend the regular trapping season for other furbearers by one month. “We did feel that was okay biologically, and as far as selling those furs can they be utilized in the fur market? Yes, they can in February. The pelts are still in good shape. Ethan and prime at that time,” he says. That extension impacts the trapping of mink, muskrat, badger, opossum, weasel, striped skunk, fox (Red and Gray), beaver, coyote, river otters, bobcats, gray (Timber) wolf and spotted skunk.

A public comment period on the proposed change will be set for sometime in January, and then there will be a public hearing on the issue in February.

North Mahaska Boys Split Wrestling Dual, Girls Pin Baxter

BAXTER – North Mahaska’s wrestling team took to the road Thursday with the boys taking on Baxter and Knoxville while the girls faced only Baxter. The boys defeated Baxter 47-21 then was edged by Knoxville 43-39. In the girls’ match, Jalayna Shipley and Vanessa Murphy each pinned their opponent for the win.

The first two matches against Baxter saw 195-pounder Alex Meland and 220 Jakob Clark win by forfeit putting the Bolts working uphill. Ryan Groom (113) pinned Alex Dille in 1 minute 15 seconds then Joel DeJong pinned Maddox Peters in 1:11 to give NM the 24-3 advantage.

Dylan Meland added a pin at 132 over Ty Bauman in 2:27 and Paul DeJong picked up a forfeit at 145. Peter Stout added a major decision over Jack Anderson 12-0 at 152 pounds and Wyatt Van Weelden scored a major decision over Callyn Bishop at 170 and Max Reed won an exciting 182-pound match over Michael Wilhelm 12-11.

In the girls’ match Shipley took just 18 seconds to score the fall of Zoey Gleim and Murphy scored a second period fall over Jahlynna Epps-Bedolla in 3:34. Knoxville did not have a girls’ team at the meet.

The Knoxville match was a back and forth affair beginning at 220 pounds where Knoxville took the early lead when Trenton Kingery pinned Clark in 2:09. Gage Vande Voort at 285 quickly tied the match with a pin of Reagan Roberts in 3:24. Chris Long scored a pin of Malici Swan in 3:35 to put the Warhawks up 12-6.

Following a forfeit, Ryan Groom (113) pinned Joe Finnegan in 1:19 and Joel DeJong (120) pinned Dane Guillon in 1:38.

The Panthers picked up a pin at 126 then Dylan Meland decisioned Knoxville’s Steven McCreery 7-4. The teams traded pins with Gage Ries winning over Cael Watters in 35 seconds at 145 and Luke Spaur pinning the Warhawks’ Hunter Wernli at 138.

In the final five matches, only Alex Meland won with a forfeit.

Oskaloosa Police Chief Graduates from School of Police Staff and Command

OSKALOOSA — The city of Oskaloosa and Oskaloosa Police Department announced the recent graduation of Chief Benjamin Boeke from the School of Police Staff and Command (SPSC) at Northwestern University.

Chief Boeke has successfully completed the 22 week Staff and Command program held in Evanston, Illinois from May 2 – October 2, 2022. This program, which was implemented by the Center for Public Safety in 1983, has graduated over 30,000 students both nationally and internationally. Chief Boeke was a student in SPSC Class #524 which accommodated a total of 21 students for the 22 week period.
The School of Police Staff and Command provides upper-level college instruction in a total of 27 core blocks of instruction and additional optional blocks during each session. The major topics of study include: Leadership, Human Resources, Employee Relations, Organizational Behavior, Applied Statistics, Planning and Policy Development, Budgeting and Resource Allocation.
Each student is academically challenged through written examinations, projects, presentations and quizzes in addition to a staff study paper that are all required parts of the curriculum. Upon successful completion, students may be awarded a total of six units of undergraduate credit from Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois.
The Center for Public Safety was established at Northwestern University in 1936 with the specific goal of expanding university-based education and training for the Law Enforcement Community. Since its inception, the Center has broadened its original objective and now provides a variety of courses and programs in the area of Police Training, Management Training, and Executive Development.
The city and department anticipate a variety of benefits from Chief Boeke’s attendance at this program. Many of the program’s graduates do go on to achieve a variety of leadership positions within their respective agencies.

NM Girls Wrestle at Tipton

TIPTON – The trio of North Mahaska girls wrestled at Tipton Dec. 5 and came away with a first and two second place finishes. Seniors Jalayna Shipley, Vanessa Murphy and Libby Groom competed.

Murphy was perfect on the night with three falls. She pinned Clinton’s Kendie Huizenga in 1 minutes 34 seconds. She pinned Ella Anderson of Waterloo West in 3:10. In her final match she took 25 seconds to pin Melanie Stoeker of Central City in 25 seconds.

Shipley pinned her way into the finals. She felled Dahlia Valdez of Columbus Community in 2:41. She took less than a minute to pin Clinton’s Juliana Clark in 58 seconds. In the finals match Hannah Rogers of Wilton scored a pin in 1:28.

Groom had four matches to reach the finals. She pinned Arie Russell of Clinton in 4:39 to open the night. She followed up with a pin of another Clinton wrestler, Emmalee Goldensoph in 56 seconds. In her fourth round match she fell to Western Dubuque’s Sharidan Engelken in 2:16. She closed out the night with a pin of Anna Thomas of Tipton in 1:33.

Bill protecting same-sex, interracial unions set for passage

WASHINGTON (AP) — The House is set to take a final vote on protections for same-sex marriages. The vote Thursday will send the legislation to President Joe Biden, a monumental step in a decadeslong battle for nationwide recognition of such unions that reflects a stunning turnaround in societal attitudes. A law requiring all states to recognize same-sex marriages would be a relief for hundreds of thousands of couples who have married since the Supreme Court’s 2015 decision legalizing the marriages. The bipartisan legislation would also protect interracial unions by requiring states to recognize legal marriages regardless of “sex, race, ethnicity, or national origin.”

Attorney General: Text messages claiming locked EBT Cards are a scam

DES MOINES — The Iowa Attorney General’s office and the Iowa Department of Health and Human Services warn Iowans to be on the lookout for spam text messages regarding EBT cards.

EBT cards are used to distribute government benefits like food assistance, known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) or food stamps.

Both agencies have recently received reports from Iowans of text messages that indicate their EBT cards are locked. The message includes a phone number to call for assistance. Iowa HHS did not send these messages.

Iowans should never share their card number or PIN number with anyone. Government agencies will never request your personal information, EBT card number, or PIN by text message.

This scam is particularly serious because those who receive benefits rely on these funds to feed their families. However, benefits lost due to fraudulent or scam activity cannot be replaced. If you are the victim of an EBT scam, you should file a report with your local law enforcement agency.

Scammers send messages to thousands of random phone numbers at a time. There is no indication EBT or SNAP households are being targeted directly.

If you received a spam text message regarding a locked EBT card, please file a report with the Federal Trade Commission.

The AG’s Consumer Protection Division provides the following tips for Iowans regarding spam text messages:

  • Do not reply or click on links to any unsolicited messages.
  • Don’t respond to spam text messages, even to ask the sender to stop contacting you. Responding verifies that your phone number is active and that you are willing to open messages, which may lead to an increase in the unsolicited text messages you receive.
  • Immediately delete text messages that ask you to confirm or provide personal information.
  • If you think the message might be real, contact the company using a phone number or website you know is real. Not the information in the text message.

The Federal Trade Commission provide additional tips on spotting and reporting spam text messages. Read them here.

Pella Council Tables Repairs for Bos Landen Conference Center

By Sam Parsons

The Pella City Council met this week to discuss proposed repairs to the Bos Landen Conference Center. A public hearing was held on the repairs, which became necessary after a frozen water pipe exploded in the center in 2020. 3 bids were received on the repairs, but while the engineer’s estimate of costs was roughly $750,000, all 3 bids came in at over $1.2 million. With such a high disparity, staff recommended to the council that they table approval of the repairs until the next meeting so they can discuss funding sources for it, and the council followed that recommendation.

The council also approved appointments to the Ad Hoc Committee for Community Center Improvements, which was conceived in October when the council decided to move forward in the process with those improvements. The appointed members were Dave Hopkins, Brenda Huisman, Pati Van Zante, Arvin Van Zante, Amanda Schwerdtfeger, Rhonda Kermode, Mary Robertson, and a representative from the Union Street Players still to be determined.

The next regular council meeting for the city of Pella is scheduled for December 20.

Osky GBB Suffers First Loss of the Season at Mount Pleasant

By Sam Parsons

The Oskaloosa Indians girls basketball team made the solo trip to Mount Pleasant yesterday and were dealt their first loss of the season by the Panthers.

In the first half, the Indians were unable to muster much offensively as shots were not able to find the bottom of the bucket. Senior point guard Presley Blommers entered the game with 39 points over the Indians’ first two games, but only managed one point in the first half as the Indians trailed 21-9 at the break.

Things would come alive for Blommers and company in the third quarter. Blommers connected on three shots from 3-point range, with junior Lydia Van Veldhuizen also knocking down a trey as the Indians rallied back to tie the game at 24-24 with less than a minute left in the 3rd. However, the 3rd quarter would end on a sour note when Panther senior Andrea Lopreato drew a foul on a 3-point shot at the buzzer and drilled all 3 of her free throws to make it 27-24 entering the fourth. Lopreato had a monster night for Mount Pleasant, scoring 24 points (8/9 FT) and collecting 17 rebounds (unofficial).

From there, the Panthers were able to stave off the comeback effort from the Indians and re-established control of the game. Blommers connected on another late 3-pointer to give her 14 points in the 2nd half, but the Panthers, led by Lopreato, stayed one or two steps ahead for the entirety of the fourth quarter and left with their first victory of the season, 41-32 over Oskaloosa.

Oskaloosa (2-1) will visit #10 Indianola on Friday in a girls/boys doubleheader. Coverage on KBOE will begin at 6pm.

Oskaloosa Stats

(Rebound totals are unofficial)

Presley Blommers: 15 points, 1 rebound

Dasia Foster: 8 points, 8 rebounds

Lydia Van Veldhuizen: 5 points, 8 rebounds

Hannah Nelson: 4 points, 7 rebounds

Evelyn Adam: 2 rebounds

Loghan Edgar: 1 rebound

Mount Pleasant Stats

Andre Lopreato: 24 points, 17 rebounds

Kate Schimmelpfennig: 11 points, 3 rebounds

Alex Scott: 4 points, 3 rebounds

Andi Scott: 2 points

Hailey Parrott: 2 rebounds

Abby Carthey: 1 rebound

Speedier drug approvals hit slowdown as FDA faces scrutiny

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Food and Drug Administration is slowing its use of a pathway that expedites the approval of promising drugs. The downturn comes as the agency’s accelerated approval program comes under new scrutiny from Congress, government watchdogs and key agency leaders. Increasingly, the FDA is asking drugmakers to remove unproven uses from older drugs that haven’t delivered on early results. And drugmakers seeking accelerated approval for new medicines are facing tougher hurdles at the agency. Legislation pending in Congress would codify those standards. Many experts support the measures as a way to claw back unproven drug uses after a recent boom in accelerated approvals.

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