The Ottumwa Courier

Local News

April 25, 2014

Halt, in the name of the ... fire department?

OTTUMWA — Deputy Fire Chief Cory Benge has spent years as an Ottumwa fire investigator. But these days, if he suspects he's talking to an arsonist, he may not call the police. Because now, he is the police.

Benge just finished 14 intense weeks going through the Iowa Police Academy. He is now an Iowa certified law enforcement officer, with arrest powers and the ability to carry a firearm.

"It was tough to be away from my family," said Benge on Friday.

He's been spending time with his wife and two little ones since returning last week. But during the day, he's been at the Ottumwa Fire Department central station catching up on paperwork and requests for permits.

Having arrest powers, the City decided, and a more in-depth ability to conduct interviews with suspects would be a benefit in Benge's job.

"The City was all for it," said Ottumwa Fire Department Chief Tony Miller. "I was 100 percent behind it. We've been known to have an arson or two in Ottumwa. He can go, investigate and have police powers now."

Benge went through the same training as every other police cadet. While a lot of what he learned will be useful in understanding law enforcement as well as criminal behavior, some classes didn't seem terribly important for Ottumwa's chief fire investigator.

He was shot with a Taser as part of Taser training, sprayed in the face with pepper spray for pepper-spray training, studied how to direct traffic, run OWI tests on drivers and how to jump in a police car to chase bad guys. But there is no separate academy for fire marshals. With only perhaps one a year going through law enforcement training, there isn't enough demand. In the OFD's 156-year history, they've never sent anyone.

Text Only
Local News
  • Overcome testing fear, get a good job OTTUMWA — It's not who you know, it's what you know. That's what City leaders say about getting a good paying job in Ottumwa. "It seems like in the last year we've had a real reduction in the number of individuals who've applied," said Joni Keith, hu

    July 25, 2014

  • Water Pollution Control Facility gets OK to upgrade OTTUMWA — An emergency Ottumwa City Council meeting resulted in spending $140,583 for the Water Pollution Control Facility. Friday afternoon, council members listened intently as Ottumwa Water Pollution Control Facility Superintendent Kam Reeves told

    July 25, 2014

  • Quincy Ave. project starts Aug. 4 OTTUMWA — Updates on the Quincy Avenue project was given to residents and businesses residing between Albia Road and Hwy. 34 on Thursday night at Ottumwa City Hall. About a dozen people attended the meeting where City Engineer Dan Sturm gave an updat

    July 25, 2014

  • Silence continues on fatal shooting OTTUMWA — Law enforcement is exercising its right to remain silent about a shooting death that occurred south of town this week. The Wapello County Sheriff's Office, which had responded to the shooting, said most information on the case would now com

    July 25, 2014

  • 0724 OTT Tehel mug -T -M Resolution — Techel verdict reached

    DAVENPORT — The father of a slain Wapello County woman said he began to heal as soon as he heard the guilty verdict today. The jury unanimously pronounced Seth Techel, 23, guilty on charges of first-degree murder and non-consensual termination of a h

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • 0726 OTT cedar creek Gone in a flash

    BLOOMFIELD — Bob Parker got about as close to lightning as you can Friday morning, and came out of it without injury. A line of thunderstorms started moving through southeast Iowa in the early morning hours. Parker was heading to work at about 7 a.m.

    July 25, 2014 2 Photos

  • 0726 OTT Garden Bites III Color Photo -T Garden Bites sees growth BLOOMFIELD — Nearly one month ago, families gathered at Pioneer Ridge Nature Center to plant various vegetables to harvest and eat on Thursday at Garden Bites. The program allows families to get their hands a bit dirty at Pioneer Ridge and plant food

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • 0725 OTT Riverfront design A new outlook on Ottumwa OTTUMWA — A "River Renaissance" is brewing in Wapello County. Planners working for Christian Rushing Studio from Tennessee took the public's ideas, and gave them life via maps, numerical projections and artists' renderings. "Hold onto your seats; you

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • Police to parents: check kids' online activities BLOOMFIELD — The Bloomfield police chief says the arrests of nine men in connection with sexting a teenage girl underscores the need for parents to keep an eye on their children online. Chief Shawn Armstrong said cases involving one or two people are

    July 24, 2014

  • 0725 OTT birthday rumble -T -M Age 106, still ready to rumble OTTUMWA — With the stories flowing, Celma Birdsall had the ride of her life Thursday. "She shared a lot of memories," said her chauffeur for the day, Dennis Parrish. Birdsall has built up a lot of stories over the 106 years she's been around. After h

    July 24, 2014 2 Photos

Photo reprints