Metro Briefs

BY DI STAFF | JANUARY 27, 2014 5:00 AM

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Woman allegedly assaults customers at Mesa Pizza

A local woman has been accused of assaulting several customers in Mesa Pizza.

Nora Sanchez-Castaneda, 22, was charged on Jan. 24 with assault and assault causing bodily injury.

According to an Iowa City police complaint, officers responded to a report of female assaulting several customers in Mesa Pizza. When officials arrived, they found Sanchez-Castaneda crying and sitting on the ground outside. Several customers ran out of the restaurant and accused her of assaulting them, the complaint said.

Officers identified at least five subjects who suffered with injuries after being allegedly assaulted by the Sanchez-Castaneda. Witness statements indicate she was standing in line for pizza when she started throwing punches at everyone around her, the complaint said.

According to the complaint, when asked about the incident, Sanchez-Castaneda said “I just wanted to go home.”

Assault and assault causing bodily injury are serious misdemeanors.

— by Alison Keim

Man allegedly steals items from Kmart

A Tiffin man has been accused of stealing more than $1,500 worth of items at Kmart.

Bryan Branscomb, 33, was charged on Jan. 24 with theft.

According to a Tiffin police complaint, Branscomb was seen on video footage entering the Kmart early in the morning, taking $1,567.94 worth of merchandise, and leaving the store.

While in the store, Branscomb paid for several small items and provided information that he is a “Shop Your Way Rewards Member,” the complaint said.

He fits the description of the suspect and has been staying at a shelter blocks away from Kmart, the complaint said.

Theft is a Class-D felony.

— by Alison Keim

Man allegedly found with marijuana

A Clinton man has been accused of possessing more than 50 grams of marijuana.

Andrew Peters, 21, was charged on Jan. 25 with OWI, failure to affix a drug tax stamp, and controlled-substance violation.

According to an Iowa City police complaint, Peters was traveling south on South Governor Street, which is a one-way northbound street. When a police officer stopped him, he reported smelling a strong odor of burnt marijuana coming from the vehicle.

The vehicle was searched, and police allegedly found 58 grams of marijuana in the trunk of the vehicle along with a black scale and purple grinder, the complaint said.

OWI is a serious misdemeanor, and failure to affix tax stamp and controlled-substance violation are Class-D felonies.

— by Alison Keim

Man allegedly drives under the influence

An Iowa City man has been accused of driving under the influence.

Michael Seaton, 56, was charged on Jan. 23 with third-offense OWI.

According to an Iowa City police complaint, Seaton lost control of his vehicle and hit a parked car. He left the scene and was located a block away.

Police reported that Seaton smelled of a strong odor of alcohol. The defendant had slurred speech and bloodshot eyes and swayed when standing, the complaint said.

Third-offense OWI is a Class-D felony.

— by Alison Keim

Man allegedly attacked woman

Joshua Venckus, 23, Iowa City, was accused Feb. 16 with second-degree sexual abuse.

According to an Iowa City police complaint, on February 16, 2012 several officers responded to a young woman that was attacked and sexually assaulted. The investigation continued over the past 11-months and through analysis it was determined that Venckus participated in the attack and sexual assault of the victim.

Although Venckus told officials during an interview he was not in Iowa City when the attack occurred, DNA evidence developed in the course of this investigation proves that the defendant participated in the attack and left the victim with multiple injuries requiring immediate medical attention, the complaint said.

Second-degree sexual abuse is a Class-B felony.

— by Alison Keim

Man allegedly fractures person's skull

An Iowa City man has been accused of causing numerous fractures in a person’s skull.

Todd White, 35, was charged on Jan. 24 with willful injury.

According to an Iowa City police complaint, White and the man were at the Moose Lodge and had an argument on New Year’s Eve in the parking lot of the establishment.

White allegedly threw the man to the ground and kicked him in the face numerous times. The man went to the hospital, where he was found to have numerous fractures in his skull and facial bones, the complaint said.

Willful injury is a Class-C felony.

— by Alison Keim

The RAGBRAI route will return to small-town roots

The RAGBRAI route for 2014 is a return to its roots.

The Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa is a seven-day bicycle ride across the state from west to east.

For the first time, the ride will begin in Rock Valley and end in Guttenberg. The 418 miles includes overnight stops in Okoboji, Emmetsburg, Forest City, Mason City, Waverly, and Independence.

The ride will occur from July 20-26.

The route is the third-shortest and second-flattest route in RAGBRAI history.

“It is a true northern Iowa route, and it’s very flat,” said RAGBRAI Director T.J. Juskiewicz. “And when we’re up in that corner of northeast Iowa, the state is a little smaller.”

Organizers are aiming to return RAGBRAI to its roots.

“There are no massive towns,” Juskiewicz said. “We’re getting back to smaller communities, which are the perfect size for RAGBRAI.”

— by Stacey Murray

Jackson Polluck's Mural to return to Iowa

Jackson Pollock’s Mural will return to Iowa this summer after two years of conservation work by the J. Paul Getty Museum and the Getty Conservation Institute of Los Angeles.

The painting will be displayed at the Sioux City Art Center from June 10 to April 10, 2015, as a part of the UI Museum of Art’s sharing project “Legacies for Iowa.” The program provides pieces from the UI’s 14,000-part collection to museums, art centers, and galleries free of charge.

The painting was removed from the former UI Art Museum in June 2008 when the Iowa River flooded the Arts Campus. It was then loaned to the Figge Art Museum in Davenport and sent to the Des Moines Art Center in 2012. Since this initative began, more than 150,000 people have seen the art exhibitions.

From Des Moines, the painting was sent to California for conservation work.

The painting was donated to the UI by Peggy Guggenheim and is currently valued at more than $150 million. UI staffers have claimed the painting is one of the most valuable pieces in the UI’s collection.

— by Stacey Murray

State legislators file emergency bill for propane shortage

As a propane crisis hits the Midwest, Rep. Sally Stutsman, D-Riverside, will file an emergency bill this week along with other legislators to provide additional funds for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program.

Around $1 million would be distributed to the program to help propane users heat their homes.

“You just can’t not heat your home when the weather is this cold,” Stutsman said. “There just has to be some emergency money for that.”

The bill follows last week’s drastic jump in propane prices. Propane is typically $2 per gallon, but it reached more than $5 per gallon on Jan. 23.

Legislators will meet at 1:30 p.m. today with members of the propane industry to find additional steps the lawmakers can take to ease the burden on Iowans while preventing another crisis.

Stutsman said she confident in the legislators’ ability to find funds for the project.

“Iowa is in a pretty comfortable place as far as the budget we have …” Stutsman said. “Long-term, we can’t do this indefinitely, but there is money for this emergency.”

The propane shortage began this fall, when crops across the Midwest were harvested. The wet crops required large amounts of propane for drying before farmers could store the crop, meaning less propane was available.

The winter storms that have plagued the Midwest have increased the demand for propane. The number of heating-degree days in Iowa has increased by 21 percent.

According to the National Weather Service, temperatures could drop to between minus 20 and minus 40 degrees in Iowa this week, and a consistent weather pattern has made this winter one of the coldest in history.

—by Stacey Murray

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