MEGA MILLIONS JACKPOT
Mega Millions jackpot soars to $636 million
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - The Mega Millions estimated jackpot has soared to $636 million, making it the second largest jackpot in U.S. history.
The jackpot had been $586 million, but lottery officials increased it Tuesday morning because of strong ticket sales ahead of the evening drawing.
The jackpot now trails only a $656 million Mega Millions pot in March 2012.
Mega Millions changed its rules in October to help increase the jackpots by lowering the odds of winning the top prize to about 1 in 259 million.
Paula Otto, lead director for Mega Millions, says officials expect about 70 percent of the possible number combinations to be purchased. The cash option is $341 million, before taxes.
Mega Millions is played in 43 states, the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
State Rep. Olson quits 2014 race for Iowa governor
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Democratic state Rep. Tyler Olson says he is dropping out of the 2014 race for governor.
Olson made the announcement Tuesday, about two weeks after acknowledging that he and his wife planned to divorce and that he would scale back his campaign for the rest of the year. The couple lives in Cedar Rapids and has two young children.
Olson says he needs to focus on his children.
The 37-year-old Olson is one of at least two Democrats running for governor. He's in his fourth term in the state House and is the former chairman of the Iowa Democratic Party.
Olson recently won the endorsement of Iowa's largest union.
The Democratic nominee likely will face Republican Gov. Terry Branstad, who is expected to seek re-election.
IOWA CITY COMPANY THEFT
Woman accused of stealing from Iowa City employer
IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) - A 44-year-old woman has been accused of stealing more than $58,000 from her Iowa City employer.
Iowa City police say Julie Taylor is charged with felony theft, accused of taking more than 125 checks sent by customers to Hawkeye Waste Systems. Police say Taylor endorsed the checks and deposited them into her own bank accounts between Oct. 20, 2011, and Feb. 20 this year.
Police say Taylor acknowledged to investigators that she'd taken a few checks.
A public phone listing for Taylor couldn't be found. Online court records don't list the name of her attorney.
BASKETBALL WHEELCHAIRS STOLEN
Basketball wheelchairs stolen in Cedar Rapids
CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (AP) - A trailer full of wheelchairs used for basketball has been stolen from a Cedar Rapids YMCA parking lot.
More than a dozen wheelchairs belonging to SportAbility of Iowa were in the trailer, which was taken over the weekend from the Stoney Point YMCA lot.
The wheelchairs are used by the Iowa Chariots team. Team members have little or no use of their legs. Jayden Barrett is a director of SportAbility, and he says the wheelchairs were bought with donated money.
Barrett says the Chariots team performs during halftime at basketball games as a way to raise money, and he told Cedar Rapids television station KCRG that "it's our way of showing people what people with disabilities are truly capable of."
Iowan convicted in death of daughter leaves prison
MITCHELLVILLE, Iowa (AP) - An Iowa woman convicted in the death of her 2-year-old child in 2000 has left prison on parole.
Forty-three-year-old Heidi Watkins was released Monday from the Iowa women's prison in Mitchellville. The Iowa Parole Board granted her parole on Dec. 5.
Watkins served nearly 13 years of a 50-year sentence. Watkins was sentenced in December 2000 on one count of multiple acts of child endangerment for the Jan. 4, 2000, death of Shelby Duis.
A judge said prosecutors proved Shelby was injured on at least three occasions before her death. The little girl's body was found in the Spirit Lake home Watkins shared with her boyfriend, Jesse Wendelsdorf, who was acquitted of murder and sexual abuse charges in a separate trial.
Northwest Iowan gets prison for sex abuse of girl
ORANGE CITY, Iowa (AP) - A 46-year-old northwest Iowa man has been given 20 years in prison for having sexual contact with a girl.
Sioux County Attorney Coleman McAllister says Todd Bonestroo, of Hull, was sentenced on Monday. Bonestroo was convicted of sexual abuse and lascivious acts with a child.
Bonestroo was arrested after a father contacted the Sioux County Sheriff's Office on July 31 to report that he suspected his 11-year-old daughter may have been sexually abused by Bonestroo. McAllister says the girl had told her parents that Bonestroo had groped her and exposed himself to her on at least two occasions three years earlier.
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