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ESCAPED INMATE

Iowa officials suspect escaped prisoner left area

CLIVE, Iowa (AP) - Authorities say a prisoner who escaped in suburban Des Moines may no longer be in the area.

The Urbandale Police Department said Friday it has suspended an active search of the immediate area for 37-year-old Kenny Bevard. They believe he has received aid from others following his escape Thursday in Clive.

Authorities say Bevard was being driven to Adel in adjacent Dallas County for a court hearing in a burglary case. He was handcuffed when he got out and ran as the Dallas County sheriff's vehicle stopped in traffic. He reached a nearby wooded area.

Dallas and Polk County sheriff's offices will continue the investigation and search for Bevard.

Authorities say Bevard has served prison time for burglary and for being a felon in possession of a firearm.

SKELETAL REMAINS-ARREST

Georgia man pleads not guilty in Iowa man's death

SAC CITY, Iowa (AP) - A Georgia man has pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder in the death of his former roommate in Iowa.

The Fort Dodge Messenger reports 54-year-old John Green, of Blairsville, Ga., made the written plea Thursday. Online records do not list a scheduled trial date.

Green is accused of killing 58-year-old Mark Koster, of Sac City. Koster's skeletal remains were found buried in the basement of his house in 2012.

Police say Green briefly lived with Koster in 2009. Relatives say they last saw Koster that year, and he was reported missing in 2010.

Green was arrested in Florida in March. He is being held at the Sac County Jail without bond.

CASH RETURN SOUGHT

2 Minnesotans want Iowa City police to return cash

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) - Two Minnesota residents want the Iowa City Police Department to return their money.

The Iowa City Press-Citizen says Tiffani Barber and Kearnice Overton, of St. Paul, Minn., last week filed an application in Johnson County District Court. They said officers wrongfully seized $48,000 during a traffic stop March 16.

Civil forfeiture laws permit officers to seize money and property of people suspected of crimes.

Overton says in court documents that Barber gave him the money to buy property from Overton's cousin in Rock Island, Ill. Overton says the money was not connected to criminal activity. Overton was cited for driving without a valid license but says in court documents that he did have a valid license.

Iowa City Police Sgt. Vicki Lalla says she can't discuss the case specifics.

MICROSOFT-WEST DES MOINES

Officials announces plan for Microsoft data center

WEST DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - State and local officials announced that Microsoft will begin construction on a new data center in West Des Moines, increasing the company's investment in Iowa to nearly $2 billion and becoming the largest investment in the state to date.

Gov. Terry Branstad joined with local officials Friday to announce Microsoft's investment in so-called "Project Alluvion," which is expected to total more than $1.1 billion. A data center completed in 2010 resulted in about a $900 million investment from the company.

Branstad says Iowa's central location makes it an attractive location for Microsoft and other companies that have recently opened data centers.

Google opened a data center in Council Bluffs in 2009, and Facebook is building a data center in Altoona that should open early next year.

IOWA UNEMPLOYMENT

Iowa's unemployment rate climbs to 4.5 percent

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Iowa's unemployment rate climbed to 4.5 percent in March as more people entered the labor force.

Iowa Workforce Development announced Friday the rate was up from 4.4 percent in February. It compared to a 4.8 percent unemployment rate in March 2013.

Despite the higher rate, agency director Teresa Wahlert says total employment reached a record high of 1.6 million people.

The number of unemployed people also increased, from 74,200 in February to 76,000 in March. Just over 7,000 additional people joined the labor force.

Iowa's rate compares to a national unemployment rate of 6.7 percent.

PIG VIRUS

USDA orders farms to report pig virus infections

MILWAUKEE (AP) - The federal government is starting a new program to help monitor and possibly control the spread of a virus that has killed millions of pigs since showing up in the U.S. last year.

The porcine epidemic diarrhea virus, believed to be from China, causes severe diarrhea in newborn piglets, who die from dehydration.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced Friday it is stepping up efforts by requiring farmers to report infections and labs where farmers send tissue and fecal samples to report positive tests.

Farms that suffer an outbreak also will have to participate in a program to help control the spread of the disease

Previously, the USDA and the nation's pork industry tracked the disease with voluntary reports from the labs.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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