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SEVERE WEATHER-MIDWEST
Record high temperatures, high winds descend on Midwest
OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Much of the Midwest is bracing for high winds, heavy rain and a chance of tornadoes as temperatures felt like summertime despite the official start of winter being only days away. Forecasters across the Plains states predicted unusually warm weather Wednesday, including likely record-breaking high temperatures in the mid-70s for much of Nebraska, Kansas, Iowa and parts of Missouri. The warmth comes with dangerously high winds and threats of violent storms, just on the heels of devastating tornadoes last weekend. The National Weather Service has issued a high wind warning along a swath stretching from New Mexico to upper Michigan — including Wisconsin and Illinois — with strong sustained winds between 25 mph and 40 mph expected. Gusts could reach more than 70 mph.
FATAL HIT-AND-RUN-VERDICT
Man found not guilty of homicide in fatal hit-and-run
DAVENPORT, Iowa (AP) — A 64-year-old Davenport man has been found not guilty of homicide by vehicle due to reckless driving in the death of a man who he hit with his vehicle and dragged under his car. A judge on Tuesday did find Mark Blackwood guilty of leaving the scene of an accident resulting in death. Investigators said Blackwood hit 60-year-old Eric Johnson, of Rock Island, on Jan. 18. Johnson was dragged about 2,050 feet after the crash. District Court Judge Mark Fowler found that prosecutors proved Blackwood knew he hit Johnson, but did not prove Blackwood knew Johnson was under the car when he kept driving. 
PARENTS KILLED-COMPETENCY
Teen accused of killing parents to undergo psychiatric tests
CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (AP) — A Cedar Rapids teenager accused of killing his parents will undergo psychiatric exams before legal proceedings against him continue. Court documents filed Monday say District Court Judge Ian Thornhill ordered a competency evaluation for 17-year-old Ethan Alexander Orton. Thornhill said Orton’s defense team submitted enough information to support their belief that Orton has a mental illness. Orton is charged as an adult with two counts of first-degree murder in the fatal stabbings of his parents, 41-year-old Misty Scott Slade, and 42-year-old Casey Orton, at their home on Oct. 14. He has pleaded not guilty. 
IOWA FARMLAND VALUE
Iowa State University survey shows farmland up average 29%
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Iowa farmland value jumped 29% this year to an average statewide value of $9,751 per acre, the highest such value recorded by Iowa State University since it began its survey in 1941. The last time farmland values increased more than 25% in a year was in 2011, when values rose 32.5% due to surging ethanol demand and high commodity prices. Associate Professor of Economics Wendong Zhang says the increase this year is in part due to much stronger commodity prices thanks to higher exports, stronger than expected crop yields and COVID-19 related government payments. The average statewide value of an acre of farmland rose by $2,193 an acre since last year.
HISTORIC GROCERY BURNS
Grocery in nearly 150-year-old western Iowa building burns
MALVERN, Iowa (AP) — An historic grocery housed in a nearly 150-year-old building in the western Iowa town of Malvern has been destroyed in a fire. Television station KETV reports that Mulholland Grocery on Main Street burned Monday night in a multi-alarm fire that required the efforts of nearly a dozen area fire departments to extinguish. Firefighters say the fire broke out around 5:30 p.m., while the store was still open for business, but no one was hurt in the blaze. Owner Tom Mullholland says the building first opened in the 1870s as a dry goods store. It’s been in the Mulholland family for all but 17 years since.
IOWA MEDICAL DIRECTOR
Former Iowa epidemiologist Pedati takes Virginia position
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Former Iowa state epidemiologist and medical director Dr. Caitlin Pedati has accepted a new public health job in Virginia. The Virginia Beach Department of Public Health says Pedati will serve as the coastal city’s public health director beginning Dec. 10. Pedati left the Iowa Department of Public Health in October, citing an interest in pursuing new career opportunities. She began working for IDPH in 2018. She says in a statement she’s happy to return to her home state.
Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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