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Week in Review

Published: Friday, Oct. 6, 2017 10:57 a.m. CDT

Governor hopefuls stop in Newton

Leading gubernatorial candidates all took turns speaking at the annual Jasper County Democrats Soup luncheon. Fred Hubbell, Nate Boulton, John Neiderbach, Andy McGuire and John Norris each addressed the voters of Newton to discuss the upcoming governor race.

Other democratic state leaders were in attendance including state representative Wes Breckenridge and U.S. congressman Dave Loebsack.

Woman accused of truck stop murder pleads not guilty

MARENGO — A woman charge in the Sept. 6 shooting death of 60-year-old Earnest Kummer, of Monroe, entered a plea of not guilty in the Iowa County Court Monday.

Mariana T. Lesnic, 43, has been charged with first degree murder and is still being held at the Iowa County Jail on a $1 million cash only bond.

Kummer was found dead in his semi truck after Iowa County Sheriff officials received a report of a shooting at the westbound rest stop on Interstate 80 near Victor. The authorities are still investigating a possible motive.

Reading Corps program helps elementaries

Students are Emerson Hough and Aurora Heights have been getting some extra help with their reading thanks to a partnership between the Iowa Reading Corps, the United Way of Jasper County and the Newton Community School District.

The program launched in 2013 and was introduced at Emerson Hough last school year. This year the program was expanded to all four NCSD elementary schools, however volunteers are sill sought for Thomas Jefferson and Woodrow Wilson.

The program is designed to make sure all k-3 students are reading at grade level. Trained volunteers work in the schools as individualized reading coaches.

City of Newton to create a new TIF district

A public hearing was set to create an urban renewal area with a Tax Increment Financing district for the Fairmeadows North subdivision expansion. The Newton City Council will open the hearing a its Nov. 6 meeting after discussion on the topic.

The expansion consisted of seven acres dived into 23 lots located east of Agnes Patterson Park. The creation of the Fairmeadows North Housing Urban Renewal Area and corresponding TIF district will be used to facilitate project, namely the infrastructure for the expanded housing development.

City administrator Matt Muckler explained the creation of a TIF district will designate taxes generated from the house to fund the pay off for the remaining infrastructure bill before they are distributed to other tax districts.

Changes in the works for Union Cemetery

In order to bring the Newton Union Cemetery in line with other city-operated parks, city administrators are looking a some changes in the operational rules for the park.

One of the biggest changes that could affect residents is a change in the cleanup dates at the cemetery. The current cleanup dates are the fourth week of March and the first full week after the Fourth of July Better communication is needed with residents to let them know that decorations will be removed from graves, and it will give family a chance to do so themselves.

City administrators met with veteran groups to discuss the proposed changes and the expansion of the veterans area of the cemetery in order to meet the needs of the deceased. With an influx of Vietnam veteran burials, the city is rapidly running out of room for veteran burials at Union Cemetery. Solutions are still being addressed by administrators and veterans groups.

Spangenburg denied bond

A Monroe man was denied bond after two requests were submitted. Alex Spangenburg, formerly of Newton, submitted a hand-written request from a bond of $200,000 on Sept. 26 stating he needed to get out to find a job and get treatment for alcohol. Th judge denied his request.

On Wednesday, Spangenburg again requested a $200,000 bond and was once again denied.

He is facing multiple charges including first-degree vehicular homicide for the October 2016 death of Brett Rice. He also faces attempted robbery and assault charges following a July 27 incident in Monroe. Spangenburg was most recently wanted by law enforcement Sept. 12 on a no-bond warrant following an arrest for public intoxication while out on bond for his previous charges.

A jury trial has been set for Feb. 14.

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