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PHOTOS: Chris Soules waives 1-year speedy trial right

WATERLOO — Reality TV star Christopher Soules will not go on trial for his part in a crash that killed a Buchanan County farmer until sometime after April.

In a brief hearing in Black Hawk County District Court on Monday morning, Soules, 36, of rural Arlington, waived his right to a speedy trial. The one-year waiver means the state does not have to be prepared to prosecute Soules on the charge of leaving the scene of a fatal accident within one year of his arrest.

Soules appeared in court in Waterloo with his attorneys and answered several questions posed by the judge on whether he understood the ramifications of the one-year waiver, and he answered “yes, your honor” to them.

Photos: Chris Soules waives right to speedy trial

The hearing was held in Waterloo instead of the Buchanan County Courthouse for the convenience of the parties.

Soules is accused of leaving the scene of a crash near Aurora on April 24, 2017, that killed farmer Kenneth Mosher, 66, of rural Aurora, who was operating a tractor when it was struck from behind by a truck being driven by Soules.

Soules has argued in earlier court hearings he did remain at the scene and administered CPR on Mosher, and has argued state law does not specify how long someone must remain at the scene.

Meanwhile, one of Soules’ attorneys, Brandon Brown of Des Moines, asked the judge to seal from public view any further court requests for Soules to travel out of state. Under the terms of his pre-trial release, Soules must notify the court if he is to travel out of state, which he has complied with.

But Brown said due to the high amount of public interest and publicity of Soules’ case, there have been problems associated with those notifications, including people showing up at his house after he is gone.

Judge Andrea Dryer said she would not seal any documents in the case, but said Brown could be more vague in his wording in making the request to travel. She said as long as the Buchanan County Attorney’s Office knows where Soules is traveling to and Soules is present for his court hearings, the requests can be “kept general.”

She also reaffirmed her denial last month of his motion to dismiss the charge. Soules claimed Iowa’s law requiring surviving drivers to remain at a fatal accident until police arrive is unconstitutional.


Reality TV star Christopher Soules, left, talks with his defense attorney Robert Montgomery at a hearing to waive his right to a speedy trial at the Black Hawk County Courthouse on Monday in Waterloo.

Waterloo school board approves land swap



WATERLOO — The Central Middle School property is growing, thanks to park land being traded for the former Edison Elementary site.

The Board of Education on Monday approved exchanging the 6.9-acre Edison property for 10 acres of Miriam’s Park adjacent to Central. Edison was located at Falls Avenue and Magnolia Parkway. Following approval of the agreement by the Waterloo City Council, the city will take possession of the property for future residential development and use for a neighborhood park.

“It is land adjacent to Memorial Stadium and it is grass,” said board member Shanlee McNally.

“We don’t necessarily have purposes for that land, but it keeps it open in the future,” said Superintendent Jane Lindaman. She did note the Waterloo Career Center is being developed in a portion of the Central building.

Edison was demolished in 2016, five years after it closed and a new elementary school was built in another location. Lindaman said Waterloo Community Schools does have a protocol for getting rid of unneeded land. Among those are selling it as-is, demolishing the building to make parcels more marketable and exchanging land with another governmental entity.

“We have tried on numerous occasions, I guess, to dispose of that property,” she said.

Board member Sue Flynn referenced a pledge made by Waterloo Schools’ officials to ensure no former schools remain standing indefinitely if a new use isn’t found for them.

“I just want to commend the district for sticking with its word,” she said. “The city can move forward and the neighborhood association is very, very happy about this.”

In other business, the board approved a resolution supporting Iowa public education in response to a potential bill creating educational savings accounts. Rather than letting per pupil state aid be used to pay for tuition when a student goes to a private school, the Legislature “should continue to promote and fully invest in Iowa’s public schools,” says the resolution.

It notes school choice options already exist in the state, nonpublic schools are not held to the same standard of transparency as public, and public schools accept and educate all students. It suggests policymakers should continue to promote existing “cooperation and the collaborative environment” between public and private schools.

A number of board members commented on the need to speak out on the issue. Board member Jesse Knight said the legislation could “cripple” the district’s ability to meet the needs of its children.

“It just worries me that we’re going down a path that would make it even more difficult for these children,” he said.




New Waterloo council rejects previous council's hire

WATERLOO — An election, timing and budget concerns pulled the rug out from under a mechanic who’d been offered a job with the city.

Waterloo City Council members voted 4-3 Monday to reject the appointment of Jonathan Oehlerich to help service and repair the city’s vehicle fleet.

Council members had voted last year to approve the additional position as part of this fiscal year’s budget. Then they voted 4-0 Aug. 28 to authorize the Human Resources Department to use a civil service process and appoint the top candidate.

Oehlerich was offered the job only to see it rejected when council members Margaret Klein and Chris Shimp, who were elected in November and just took office in January, joined holdover council members Steve Schmitt and Bruce Jacobs to turn it down.

Council members Jerome Amos Jr., Sharon Juon and Pat Morrissey voted to complete the hire.

“I’m just concerned about the state of our budget and adding full-time positions at this moment,” Klein said. “This is an expansion of personnel. It is not to replace someone who has retired. We are growing a department.”

Jacobs said the city should wait to complete its upcoming budget deliberations before filling the post.

“I don’t know why we couldn’t just wait a couple months to get past the budget season so we know how we’re going to pay for it before we obligate ourselves to another $84,000 position,” he said.

Morrissey countered that the position was already in the budget.

“We aren’t adding any money to the budget,” he said. “We are just finally filling this position for the benefit of public works and being able to do their job.”

Human Resources Director Lance Dunn said the previous council had already authorized extending the job offer. “Basically you’re approving the individual when it comes to this time,” he said.

But Klein said she didn’t agree with being obligated to follow a previous council’s vote.

“I have no problem with the process,” she said. “I just have a problem having it suggested that it is inevitable and I have to vote one way.”

Mayor Quentin Hart said situations are going to come up when issues addressed before an election are completed by new council members.

“Yeah, you’re probably voting on stuff that was prior to you getting here,” he said. “But this wasn’t anything that was done in the dark.”

Interim Public Works Director Sandie Greco said the position would have become the ninth mechanic servicing some 430 vehicles in the city fleet. It was primarily funded with road use tax, sanitation and sewer funds, not property taxes.

“We have a backload right now and it’s not because they’re not working eight-hour days,” she said.

Jacobs said the city should discuss outsourcing vehicle maintenance or hiring part-time personnel during the pending budget discussions.

VIDEO/PHOTOS: Fire destroys Cedar Falls home

CEDAR FALLS – A Cedar Falls family escaped unharmed but lost their home to a fire Monday night.

A family member at 3919 Beaver Ridge Trail noticed the fire shortly after 9 p.m. and evacuated the home, said Jeff Olson, director of public safety for Cedar Falls.

“Everybody is safe, the family is safe,” said Fire Chief John Bostwick.

When firefighters arrived, the fire was burning on the east side of the house and had reached the attic, Bostwick said.

“It spread back and forth across the entire attic,” Bostwick said.

Flames engulfed the entire house, which is an complete loss.

The home is in the Beaver Hills neighborhood, which lacks fire hydrants, so firefighters drew water from a hydrant at West First and Shirley streets about two miles away and trucked it to portable tanks at the scene.

Crews from Janesville, New Hartford, Dike and Stout fire departments helped with the effort, Bostwick said.

The cause of the fire hasn’t been determined. Property records show the home is owned by Darren and Sara Yoder.

Struggling Bon-Ton Stores Inc. files for bankruptcy protection

MILWAUKEE — Stressed by heavy debt and slumping sales, department store retailer Bon-Ton Stores Inc. said Sunday night it has filed for bankruptcy protection.

The parent company of Boston Store, Younkers and other stores said its voluntary Chapter 11 bankruptcy petition, filed in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Delaware, would allow it to explore strategic alternatives, such as a sale of the company or parts of it in a plan of reorganization.

Its stores and online operations remain open for business as usual, the company said.

Officials announced Jan. 31 the Younkers store at College Square Mall in Cedar Falls would close but the Waterloo store would remain open.

In its announcement Sunday, Bon-Ton said the company is in “constructive discussions” with potential investors and its debt holders regarding the terms of a financial restructuring plan.

Bon-Ton said it has received a commitment from a group of lenders for up to $725 million in special financing, known as debtor-in-possession financing, which, subject to court approval, is expected to support the company’s operations during the financial restructuring process.

“We are currently engaged in discussions with potential investors and our debt holders on a financial restructuring plan, and the actions we are taking are intended to give us additional time and financial flexibility to evaluate options for our business,” Bill Tracy, president and chief executive officer of Bon-Ton, said in a statement. “Bon-Ton has seven well-loved brands and associates who have remained committed to delivering excellent service to our customers for decades. During this court-supervised process, we plan to continue operating in the normal course and executing on our key initiatives to drive improved performance.”

In addition to Boston Store and Younkers, Bon-Ton operates under the brand names Bergner’s, Bon-Ton, Carson’s, Elder-Beerman and Herberger’s.

Bon-Ton has not been profitable since 2010 and is headed for a loss for fiscal 2017 as well. Online merchants such as Amazon and others have cut into business, and fewer consumers are going to shopping malls.

Stores operated by Bon-Ton are anchor tenants in many shopping centers, including about two dozen in Wisconsin.

Feb. 6, 2018

Q: Approximately how many hours of general education classes are required by most four-year colleges? Are those classes available through Hawkeye? Do Hawkeye credits transfer to most main line colleges?

A: Josh Lehman, senior communications director for the Iowa Board of Regents, said the number of general education credit hours needed to achieve a bachelor’s degree at a four-year institution varies, but is usually between 30 and 40 hours. That range also applies to Iowa’s public universities. Lehman said the Board of Regents has statewide articulation agreements regarding the transfer of credits between Iowa’s community colleges, including Hawkeye Community College, and all regent institutions. As part of these agreements, HCC’s general education credits do transfer to Iowa’s public universities.

Q: Why did The Courier run the Jan. 2 Evansdale City Council meeting minutes again?

A: The city inadvertently attached the incorrect minutes when they emailed their minutes and bills that were published Jan. 26. The correct minutes were published Jan. 30.

Q: Has the White House said why President Trump’s election fraud commission has been disbanded? Did it release any preliminary reports of its findings?

A: The White House said the step came after various states (mostly Democratic, according to a Trump tweet) refused to participate. Another factor was a Democratic member of the commission sued the panel, complaining Republicans were withholding key information from him and asking a federal court to compel it to provide him with documents. After the district court agreed, the president disbanded the panel. “Rather than engage in endless legal battles at taxpayer expense, today I signed an executive order to dissolve the Commission,” Trump said. He asked the Department of Homeland Security to take over the probe. No report has been issued yet.

Q: When will the bankruptcies be printed?

A: We are not sure. We have lost our correspondent that picked them up for us and have not found a new one.

Q: In the Cedar Valley Memory III book it says it is presented by The Courier and John Deere. What is John Deere’s involvement in this book?

A: John Deere was the book’s main sponsor and also provided a number of photos for all three Cedar Valley Memory volumes.

Q: What is the blue tube sticking out of the ground at the old Black Hawk Roller Drome property in Cedar Falls?

A: Cedar Falls Public Works and Parks Manager Brian Heath replies: “Several varieties of tree saplings have been planted on flood buyout lots in an effort to reforest the area. The ‘blue tubes’ are specially designed protective covers placed over the trees to promote healthy growth and to protect the saplings from being eaten by deer and other wild animals.”

Q: What was the name of the ballroom in Clear Lake where Buddy Holly played?

A: It was the Surf Ballroom.

Calls are taken on a special Courier phone line at 234-3566. Questions are answered by Courier staff and staff at the Waterloo Public Library.


Jesse Knight

running for open seat