STATE NEWS: Iowa farmers join in state plan to save monarch butterflies

WASHINGTON, Iowa (AP) — Iowa farmers are joining an effort to create a habitat statewide to save monarch butterflies from extinction.

The Des Moines Register reports that Iowa's two-decade-long effort is part of a 16-state regional plan to develop up to 7 million acres of habitat for the monarch's migration east of the Rockies. Roughly 40 percent of all monarch butterflies that overwinter in Mexico come from Iowa and other Midwestern states.

The state plans to create up to 830,000 acres of habitat and plant nearly 190 million new stems of milkweed. About 1.6 billion stems are needed in the Midwest.

Dozens of conservation, government, utility and agriculture groups support Iowa's plan, including Farm Bureau, Monsanto and Syngenta.

About $5.3 million in public and private funding is dedicated to the effort so far.

Sheriff: Man was working on crane boom when it killed him

CHESTER (AP) — A sheriff says a man installing a boom extension on an old, truck-mounted construction crane in northern Iowa was crushed to death when the boom fell on him.

Fifty-seven-year-old Timothy Brandau was pronounced dead at the scene Wednesday in Chester. An autopsy has been ordered.

Howard County Sheriff Mike Miner said Friday that Brandau told acquaintances that he needed the extra boom length for a construction job. Miner says Brandau hadn't set up any safety support and was struck when the top part of the boom suddenly fell after he knocked out a connection pin.

Miner says Brandau was working alone.

Brandau bought, sold and repaired construction equipment at his property in Chester, a town of about 125 people that sits on the Minnesota state line.

Man gets probation after taking plea deal in arson case

SIOUX CITY (AP) — A man accused of setting fire to a Sioux City house has been given probation.

The Sioux City Journal reports that 33-year-old Jesse Bigeagle pleaded guilty Thursday to an arson charge after prosecutors dropped charges of burglary and criminal mischief. He was given four years of probation and a suspended 10-year prison sentence.

Woodbury County District Court records say Bigeagle entered the home early on Sept. 19, went to the basement and started a fire there before leaving.

No injuries were reported. The records say Bigeagle had lived at the house.

Flooding changes route of Iowa's cross-state bike ride

MADRID (AP) — Flooding has forced organizers to re-route part of Iowa's annual cross-state bicycle ride.

Officials say flooding has significantly affected low-lying edges of Ledges State Park in Madrid, which is slated to host the Register's Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa on July 24.

The ride has now been re-routed to avoid the park. The lowest areas along the route are currently under as much as 20 feet of water and levels are not expected to subside by the time bicyclists come through.

Riders are now slated to leave Boone eastbound on U.S. Highway 30, turn south on Quill Avenue, then meet up with the original route after about 3 miles. The new route will decrease the day's distance by 3 miles.

This year's ride begins July 22 in Onawa and ends July 28 in Davenport.

Illinois, Iowa officials look into rise in parasitic illness

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — Health officials in Illinois and Iowa are investigating an increase in people becoming sick from a parasite that causes intestinal illness.

The Illinois Department of Public Health said in a news release Thursday that it has received confirmation of about 90 cases of cyclosporiasis, which is caused by the Cyclospora parasite. The Iowa Department of Public Health, in its own release, said it has identified 15 cases linked to the same illness and parasite.

Both departments say there appears to be a link to consumption of McDonald's salads. The departments say McDonald's is also investigating and has been fully cooperating with state health officials, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Food and Drug Administration.

The Illinois cases date back to mid-May and the Iowa ones to late June.

People can become infected by consuming food or water contaminated with the microscopic parasite.

The most common symptom is watery diarrhea. Other symptoms could include appetite and weight loss, intestinal pain, nausea and fatigue.

Grain bin company founder Eugene Sukup dies at 89

SHEFFIELD (AP) — Eugene Sukup, who founded a grain bin and dryer company in northern Iowa, has died at the age of 89.

Retz Funeral Home in Sheffield says Sukup died Thursday at Mercy Medical Center in Mason City. Services are scheduled Tuesday in Hampton.

Sukup Manufacturing Co. says Sukup "will be remembered by his family and many friends, colleagues and members of the agriculture community as a leader, innovator and exceptionally caring and generous person."

Sukup and his wife, Mary, founded Sukup Manufacturing in 1963 in a welding shop in Sheffield. His first patent was for grain stirring equipment to keep corn from spoiling in a bin. The company employs a little over 600 people in Sheffield.

He was born at his family's home about 2 miles north of Ashfall Fossil Beds Historical State Park in northeast Nebraska.